This paper asserts that we are currently experiencing an epochal shift equal to that which inaugurated modernity. If the Caribbean was central to the production of modernity and the subsequent dominance of the West, it is also central to the current epochal shift. By exploring two dimensions of this shift as experienced in Jamaica – the growing influence of China globally, and the challenge contemporary feminist and sexual activism are posing to gendered notions of racial respectability that had previously served as the backbone of nationalism – the paper reflects on how we are being required to imagine sovereignty in new terms. If we are, in fact, witnessing the death of the West, or at least the destabilisation of the dominant parameters of Western liberal governance, what can the space of the Caribbean, and particularly Jamaica, tell us about what sovereignty might mean now and into the future?
Based on auto/biographical and ethnographic narratives and conceptual theories, this essay explores the Global African Diaspora as a racialised space of belonging for African diasporas in the US, the UK, and – more recently – the clandestine migration zones from Africa to southern Europe. Both approaches are used to illustrate the author’s roots, routes, and detours; an interpretive paradigm highlighting the interconnectedness across time and space of differential African diasporas. The critical analysis interrogates transnational modalities of black and Global African Diasporic kinship, consciousness, and solidarity engendered by shared lived experiences of institutionalised racism, structural inequalities, and violence.
In this paper I seek to share some of the insights I have gained from my studies on the African diaspora over the past two decades. It begins by mapping out some of the analytical framings of African Diaspora Studies, with particular reference to the spatial scope and temporal dimensions of the African diaspora. This is followed by an examination of the multiple and multi-layered contributions that African diasporas have made and continue to make to African societies and countries. The paper analyses some of the challenges that undermine more productive engagements between the diasporas and their countries or regions of origin. The paper concludes by focusing an academic initiatives that aim to strengthen the project of engaging African diasporas for Africa’s sustainable development, namely, the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program.
In this article I introduce the concept of ‘mobile worlding’ in relation to African diaspora’s urban world-making practices. Conceptualising ‘mobile worlding’ is an endeavour in bringing the trans-urban circulation and interconnectedness of migrants’ urban world-making practices to the fore. ‘Mobile worlding’ has the potential to enhance our understanding, not only of (the interconnectedness of) migrants’ contributions to contemporary city-making, but also of the contemporary diasporic experience, i.e. as something which is highly mobile as African diaspora both online and offline incessantly move in polycentric urban networks along which also their urban world-making practices circulate in multidirectional ways. I illustrate this by highlighting my own empirical research on African diaspora’s religious place-making in European cities, as well as by foregrounding other scholarship in which instances of diasporic ‘mobile worlding’ are brought to the fore, for instance through hip hop and fashion, but without being conceptualised as such.
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.