In this keyword, I reflect upon African diaspora in a mobilities perspective, exploring analytical and empirical resonance and tensions. Despite the boom of diaspora and mobilities studies in the last decades, research explicitly linking these two literatures is still nascent. Exploring diaspora through a mobilities perspective, I suggest that attention to regimes of mobilities and migratory trajectories can yield important insights. The first perspective highlights how mobility and immobility is governed, facilitated or constrained historically and today, shedding light on the unequal distribution of safe, legal and free (im)mobility for African diaspora groups, whether ‘old’ or ‘new’; the second illuminates the twists and turns of migratory journeys or displacement, bringing attention beyond the host land – homeland axis found in some diaspora studies. Finally, turning the analytical lens around, I dwell upon temporality and belonging in diaspora studies and how they link to mobility, with emphasis on potentiality and elusiveness rather than fixity and stability.
This paper explores Brent Edwards’s 2001 notion of “décalage” and its role in the evolution of the African diaspora studies. I argue that this notion should be profoundly considered in envisioning the future of the field since it not only reflects the original chasm between African and African-American understandings of the diaspora as Edwards states, but it also illustrates how the diaspora has gradually turned into multiple and sometimes scattered diasporas. I also contend that this multiplicity forces us to question what unites African and Afro-descendants today. I do so relying on Gilles Deleuze’s disjunctive synthesis to examine these three dimensions of diasporan relations. I also discuss how ideological frameworks such as Pan-Africanism or Négritude bridged differences thanks to key ideas of emancipation, black existence and connected struggles. I finally explore contemporary models that could renew diaspora studies: Africana and Afro-liminalities.
Based on recurrent ethnographic fieldwork with West African undocumented (im)migrants in Paris (France) since 2006, this photo-essay describes one particular housing complex inhabited by a vast West African diaspora. In addition to a descriptive analysis of my work with photography in the context of anthropological research in this particular setting, the article explores the notion of sacrifice as experienced and recounted by men who have undertaken the long and perilous journey to Europe to find means to support their families back home. Finally, I argue in favour of an approach to aesthetics that acknowledges the fundamental ambiguity of the photographic image and its use within the context of undocumented migration.
Ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis was employed to obtain information on the population relationships of the two Thulamela individuals (AD 1400-1700) and six other skeletons from various archaeological sites of the southern African Iron Age – Tuli (Botswana), Nwanetsi, Makgope, Happy Rest and Stayt. Although sequences were short, it seems that the Thulamela female aligns somewhat more with eastern populations as opposed to the male who aligns more with western groups. This result is not surprising given that the two individuals were buried at the same site but their burials were hundreds of years apart. It was also possible to identify genetic links between the Iron Age individuals and modern southern African populations (e.g. some of the skeletons assessed showed maternal genetic similarities to present-day Sotho/Tswana groups) and to separate the samples into at least two genetic groups. Poor quality and quantity of DNA meant that only haplogroups, not subhaplogroups, of the individuals could be traced.