AccueilSocial (im)mobilities in Africa

Social (im)mobilities in Africa

Ethnographic approaches

*  *  *

Publié le mardi 12 janvier 2016 par João Fernandes

Résumé

Taking as a point of departure that since the decline – if not the evaporation – of class analysis in the 1980s, less systematic attention has been paid to the dividing lines of African societies, this workshop wants to take the idea of a social space seriously and to explore, with both theoretical imagination and empirical rigour, the divisions of African social spaces in their historical and multi-layered strata, their production and the way they are practically experienced by social actors.

Annonce

Argument

Taking as a point of departure that since the decline – if not the evaporation – of class analysis in the 1980s, less systematic attention has been paid to the dividing lines of African societies, this workshop wants to take the idea of a social space seriously and to explore, with both theoretical imagination and empirical rigour, the divisions of African social spaces in their historical and multi-layered strata, their production and the way they are practically experienced by social actors.

How can we represent and think of the African social spaces today? Since the beginning of the 1990s and the full deployment of the SAPs, the neoliberal moment enforced by international institutions brought about important changes not only in the life conditions of many African populations, but also ended up having significant effects on the ways people inhabited their existences. Hence for instance the diffusion of new religious forms and the ongoing evolution of the field of education which went on in parallel with the economic transformations related to the increased market orientation that African countries took up in the wake of neoliberal reforms. This was, however, only one more of the numerous forces which have, historically speaking, been shaping African social spaces and their divisions between rural and urban experiences, along regional and ethnic lines, issues of autochthony, religious identities, and the unequally persistent hierarchies inherited from pre-colonial pasts. Not to forget the dividing lines produced by levels of formal education, professional worlds, and the massive levels of economic inequality. The current debate on the ‘emerging’ middle-class(es) has already produced some new analytical insight here, but much more is still waiting to be done.

Against this backdrop, the workshop will be organized around two sets of empirical questions.

1. The first axis questions the objective (demographic, economic, institutional, social, etc.) conditions with which social actors are confronted in the unfolding of their existences. This includes, but not exclusively, the political economy. More broadly, it demands that we ask what are the divisions of the social space which shape peoples social trajectories? Which social forces do they face in the course of their everyday lives? And on what grounds are experiences of social (im)mobility built, in which conditions and experiences are their (im)mobile social trajectories grounded? And through which representations of their own situation and through which practices do they sometimes actively contribute to their own social mobility or, on the contrary, relegation?

2. In which frames do social actors understand their experiences of social mobility and immobility? In what ideological forms, or in which ideological frames, do they make sense of their experiences? In what ways, for instance, do ideologies of social mobility (for instance the value of self-entrepreneurship, or of promotion through education) affect experiences of social immobility, poverty and inequality? How do economic ideologies, and representations of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ as well as of ‘backwardness’, infuse different social niches? How do expectations of spatial mobility entwine with social mobility? Or what roles do respectively ‘new figures of success’ or religious ideologies play in the diverse sections of the social space? Still on the religious terrain, how do for instance religious ideologies of individual success (as in the Prosperity Gospel) translate into the social space?

Programme

Tuesday 9 Feb 2016

  • 14.00  Joël Noret (ULB), ‘Introduction. Thinking social (im)mobilities in Africa today’
  • 14.30  Carola Lentz (U Mainz), ‘Life course, generation, and social mobility : the making of an African middle class’

15.30  Discussion

16.00  Coffee

  • 16.30  Pnina Werbner (U Keele), ‘Class and Intersectionality in contemporary Africa: the case of Botswana’

17.30  Discussion

18.00  End

19.00  Dinner

Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Morning

  • 9.00  Ben Page (UCL), ‘Migration and the middle class land rush in Buea, Cameroon’

9.20  Discussion

  • 9.40  Laura Camfield (U East Anglia) ‘‘I had a five years plan and now it ends in 2024’ : social (im)mobilities among young entrepreneurs in Kampala’

10.00  Discussion

10.20   Coffee

  • 10.40  Benjamin Rubbers (ULg), ‘Social mobilities in Katanga, DR Congo. The case of Gécamines families’

11.00  Discussion

  • 11.20  Maxim Bolt (U Birmingham), ‘Crisis and the meanings of mobility on the Zimbabwean-South African border’

11.40  Discussion

12.00   Lunch

Afternoon

  • 13.30  Marco di Nunzio (ULB), ‘An inverted social contract: development, political authoritarianism and the production of marginality in inner city Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’

13.50  Discussion

  • 14.10  Géraldine André (ULB), ‘Social differentiation in mining. The case of child labour in artisanal mines in subsaharan Africa’

14.30  Discussion

14.50  Coffee

  • 15.10  Lotte Pelckmans (DIIS), ‘Social im/mobility of former slave groups in the context of crisis and conflict in Mali’

15.30  Discussion

  • 15.50  Hannah Hoechner (ULB), ‘Aspiration Management : Nigerian Qu’ranic students between high hopes and limited future prospects’

16.10  Discussion

16.30  End

Lieux

  • Institut de Sociologie, ULB, Salle Henri Janne, 15th floor - 44 Avenue Jeanne
    Bruxelles, Belgique (1050)

Dates

  • mardi 09 février 2016
  • mercredi 10 février 2016

Mots-clés

  • Afrique, espace social, inégalité sociale, mobilité sociale

Contacts

  • Joël Noret
    courriel : jnoret [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be

Source de l'information

  • Joël Noret
    courriel : jnoret [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be

Pour citer cette annonce

« Social (im)mobilities in Africa », Journée d'étude, Calenda, Publié le mardi 12 janvier 2016, http://calenda.org/352223