With the rise of authoritarian populism, European media and governments present unauthorized migration from African countries as a serious threat. As migration has risen to the top of the international development agenda, the EU and other donor countries are supporting migration prevention programs across Africa. The waves of new migration to Europe, however, are misrepresented and poorly understood in the media and in social science scholarship. In most cases, migration is explained by a singular cause, such as unemployment, low wages, poverty, conflicts, climate change or culture. No single explanation holds, however, when migration is viewed from the perspective of migrants and their parents. In addition to describing multiple causal pressures, young Senegalese men describe their decision to take on the risk of emigration in fatalistic terms, explaining that their destiny is in the hands of God as they migrate. Drawing on initial findings from research on unauthorized migration from Senegal to Europe, this talk suggests that young migrants’ fatalism should be interpreted not as a religious belief but as the result of their self-deprecation, which is a product of historical social and political conditions that predispose them to deeper vulnerabilities at home. This talk emphasizes the need for integrative approaches to migration that account for multiple causes – including ideational and affective internalizations of past insults – in order to understand and combat the self-destruction that desires for Europe represent.
Papa Faye holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from University of Bern (2014) and a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology from Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar (2007). He has conducted research on natural resources governance with the Council for the Development of Social Sciences Research in Africa (2004-2014) and with the Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR) initiative (2009-2015) – a West Africa-wide think tank focused on agricultural development. Papa was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the UIUC Geography Department in 2014-15. He is also co-founder and Executive Secretary of CADRE (Centre d’Action pour le Développement et la Recherche) based in Dakar. Currently, Papa is a non-resident Fellow of Open Society Foundations and is completing a book project on the rights to local democracy and self-determination in forests and farmland in Senegal.