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Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin

Archaeology, History and Memory


Edited by Anne Haour

In Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin an international team examines a little-known part of the Niger River valley, West Africa, over the longue durée. This area, known as Dendi, has often been portrayed as the crossroads of major West African medieval empires but this understanding has been based on a small number of very patchy historical sources. Working from the ground up, from the archaeological sites, standing remains, oral traditions and craft industries of Dendi, Haour and her team offer the first in-depth account of the area.

Contributors are: Paul Adderley, Mardjoua Barpougouni, Victor Brunfaut, Louis Champion, Annalisa Christie, Barbara Eichhorn, Anne Filippini, Dorian Fuller, Olivier Gosselain, David Kay, Nadia Khalaf, Nestor Labiyi, Raoul Laibi, Richard Lee, Veerle Linseele, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Carlos Magnavita, Sonja Magnavita, Didier N'Dah, Nicolas Nikis, Sam Nixon, Franck N’Po Takpara, Jean-François Pinet, Ronika Power, Caroline Robion-Brunner, Lucie Smolderen, Abubakar Sule Sani, Romuald Tchibozo, Jennifer Wexler, Wim Wouters.

Across the Borders of Political Subjectivity

Ghanaian Migrants to Italy as Development Brokers

Selenia Marabello


Based on the ethnography of two co-development projects run by Ghanaian migrants to Italy, this article explores migrants’ political subjectivity by examining practices and discourses on migration as a resource for development. In Ghana, which is considered one of the African states more pro-active in designing policies to channel migration for development, diasporic groups have been re-articulated as part of the transnational nation. In Italy, where migrants are incorporated as subaltern subjects, migration and development policies have been interpreted as an inclusive tool for promoting socio-economic integration in the country of immigration. In this scenario, where neo-liberal policies celebrate migrants’ potential as development agents, the analysis focuses on the way Ghanaian migrants imagine and encounter the state of both origin and destination while reflecting and embodying discourses, becoming development brokers, and struggling to be recognized across borders.

Diaspora Engagement in Development

The Case of Ethiopian Diaspora Associations Based in Germany

Mulugeta Bezabih Mekonnen and Beate Lohnert


With a tenfold increase in remittance flows over the last 25 years, the diaspora’s role in the development efforts of the countries of the global South has gained broader interest from both researchers and receiving countries. Besides financial remittances, flows of skills, knowledge, and social remittances have also gained more attention, particularly the relevance of diaspora associations as drivers of development processes. In this article, we explore the role of Ethiopian diaspora associations in Germany for their home country, the changing Ethiopian diaspora policy, and the support programs for diaspora engagement from the German side. By looking more closely at two Ethiopian diaspora associations, we investigate their impact under the current political framework conditions.

Holy Strangers

Transnational Mobility and Moral Empowerment among Evangelical Guineans in Lisbon, Portugal

Ambra Formenti


This article explores the religious lives of migrants in the African diaspora by focusing on the case of the Missão Evangélica Lusófona (MEL), a congregation settled on the outskirts of Lisbon and formed by migrants from Guinea-Bissau and other Portuguese-speaking countries. MEL is portrayed as an example of how Christian faith enables African believers to cross transnational spaces and to create new spiritual placements in the local environment they inhabit. Against the background of postcolonial Portugal, MEL’s mission discourses are analysed as narratives of moral empowerment that invert the stigmatizing representations of African migrants expressed by their Portuguese-born neighbours. Through these narratives, it is suggested, Evangelical Guinean migrants are able to face their historical and social condition of marginality, by developing a spiritual citizenship grounded in the idea of a Lusophone space of mission.

Maintaining Links with the Homeland through Marriage and Naming

An Exploratory Study among Nigerian Immigrants in the US

Monibo A. Sam


The more contemporary wave of diaspora Africans constantly call upon a wide array of elements of their native cultures as they negotiate life in their host societies, signifying their continuing linkage to their homelands. This article examines marriage among Nigerian immigrants in the US for patterns expressing their continuing connectedness to their native cultures. I argue that marrying fellow Nigerians allows them to create a space where their native cultures become part of their daily lives. Legitimizing their marriages using Nigerian institutions, to an extent which is not required by US law, also signifies their connection to their homelands. When they give their children ethnic (Nigerian) names, they do so explicitly to express their cultural identity and roots and sow the seeds of this consciousness in their children.

Making a ‘Home Away from Home’?

Home-Making Practices in the Celestial Church of Christ in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Nienke Pruiksma


Are migrant religious communities a ‘home away from home’ as is often claimed? What is home and how does religion feature in the creation of home and belonging in the process of migration? This article interrogates the oft-mentioned communalities in language, culture, ethics and ethnicity as key factors in home-making and belonging. Building on Thomas Tweed’s argument concerning the home-making features of religion, I argue that ritual is the key factor. Looking at the ritual of anointment in the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) in Amsterdam, this article concludes that in a migration context both the leadership and members invest in anointment as a ritual of home-making, resulting in the negotiation of an inherited practice to create – albeit temporary and contested – experiences of home and belonging.

Migration Policies and Uncertainty

Prayer as (Un)Political Activism among African Pentecostals in Switzerland

Jeanne Rey


This article addresses the role of migrant congregations as civil society players through the practice of prayer. By combining the notion of political activism and the theory of subjectivation, it offers a new perspective on Pentecostal practice and migrant congregations in Europe as a way of addressing uncertainty linked to migration policies and mobility regimes. In Switzerland, where conditions for migrants have become increasingly restrictive, political and social forms of exclusion are challenged by African Pentecostal migrants who engage in prayer that contests restrictions on mobility, assignation to subaltern positions, as well as other forms of discrimination. Yet, this ritual resistance rarely takes the form of a political action; neither does it formulate concrete claims towards immigration procedures and policies. Rather, it is expressed through prayer in the protective space of a religious community, allowing the migrants to reassess subjectivations and to imagine new subjectivities.

Within the Borders but Not Really in South Africa

Narratives of Home and Belonging among Zimbabweans in Johannesburg and Their Implications for Circular Migration

Admire Chereni


This article explores the relationship between economic and social aspects of differential inclusion in South Africa as well as migrants’ notions and practices of home and belonging. It is based on narratives provided by Zimbabweans in Johannesburg, and considers what this relationship might imply for how we understand circular migration. It finds that, differential inclusion – emanating from migrants’ experiences of deportability, insecure residence, marginal economic practices, uncertain futurity and temporal disruptions, that punctuated their post-arrival everyday life – shapes migrants’ perceptions of home as a concrete site left behind to which migrants strive to return. Conversely, negative evaluations of livelihood opportunities in Zimbabwe fuel an orientation towards an imminent yet continually deferred eventual return.

Marcelo Kunrath Silva


O artigo analisa o ciclo de protestos de 2013 no Brasil, a partir de três questões: Como caracterizar este ciclo de protesto? Quais foram seus principais atores? Como foram produzidas as mudanças qualitativas observadas entre as diferentes fases do ciclo de protestos? O argumento central é que a ação contenciosa de movimentos sociais progressistas, que caracterizou a primeira fase do ciclo, foi identificada e interpretada por contramovimentos conservadores como uma oportunidade para sua própria mobilização. Esta apropriação parcial do ciclo de protestos pelos contramovimentos seria o mecanismo que produz a mudança qualitativa observada na segunda fase do ciclo. Neste processo de apropriação foram gestados e/ou fortalecidos atores, redes e recursos que tiveram centralidade na construção das mobilizações anti-Dilma em 2015 e 2016.