World-Making at the Margins

Baay Faal Practice as Affective Tethering in Barcelona

In: African Diaspora
Arturo Marquez Jr. Drake University Department for the Study of Culture and Society USA Des Moines, IA

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Transnational social networks are vital to West Africans in managing relationships but also in ascertaining viable ways of being and belonging in the diaspora. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, this paper examines the ‘Baay Faal paradox’ to address sites of contention in West African endeavours to bind a sense of self to transnational social networks. I propose urban world-making practices that sustain connections to transnational social networks from the margins of these relations signal what I am calling ‘affective tethering.’ The term ‘tethering’ in my analysis foregrounds an imagined distance between normative models of practice and purported deviations that result in precarious, unstable and patchy connections to transnational social networks. This approach sheds light on the complex relationship between a person’s sense of self and the transnational social networks that inform ideas of personhood in the context of global mobility and settlement.

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