HomeIn the manufacture of mobility regimes in Africa

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In the manufacture of mobility regimes in Africa

Dans la fabrique des régimes de mobilité en Afrique

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Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2023


In Africa, debates on the development of migration policies and borders are at the core of many studies. Over the past two decades, the transformation of mobility regimes, the strengthening of borders and the emergence of multiple actors in migration “management” have been addressed mainly through the process of externalisation of borders and the role played by actors of the international migration government. Without questioning the asymmetric and postcolonial dimensions of African-European state relations, this topical collection aims to take a different and innovative look at the historical, social and political trajectories of African states and societies in the government of mobility. It thus aims to interrogate the ways in which a wide variety of actors, both state and non-state, invest, contest and reuse the socio-political spaces of migration government through their practices, discourses or mobilities.



Over the past twenty years, migration policies, and the approach of migration in general, have experienced profound changes on the African continent, as elsewhere in the world. The development of a “global governance of migration” (Pécoud, 2018) is contributing to the dissemination of a certain model of mobility regulation. In Africa, the changes brought about by this model are generally perceived as imported, or even imposed from outside. Consequently, in recent years, the increase in the number of fieldwork and research projects on migration controls in Africa  can be associated with the growing scientific interest in the issue of “externalization” and the European action (Boswell, 2003; Gammeltoft-Hansen, 2006) in the analysis of migration policies on the continent. As some of the work has shown, this key concept is particularly relevant for capturing certain dimensions of the processes of transformation of migration-related rights, norms and practices in the countries that the European Union (EU) has designated as “migrant sending and transit countries”.

However, the concept of externalisation is also limited by certain empirical and theoretical realities. In addition to the Eurocentric approach it implies, it is also similar to the “yoke paradigm” theorised by Bayart (1989: 24) and tends to consider, in spite of everything, “third” states, especially African ones, as homogeneous entities and passive receptacles, subject to the imposition of normative transfers by other actors such as the EU, its Member States and certain international organisations.

On the contrary, this topical collection aims to shed light on the existence of political and social dynamics specific to African states (Gaibazzi et al., 2017), seizing, according to their agendas, the various opportunities offered by all of these “external” cooperations and actors in the fields of migration (Cassarino, 2018; El Qadim, 2018; Cassarini, 2020; Perrin, 2020), security (Frowd, 2018; Dauchy, 2020), development aid, or democracy. It is also a question of considering regional integration spaces in terms of a source of inspiration or influence (Perrin, 2020). We formulate the hypothesis that, in Africa (and elsewhere), European and international pressures and influences (Geiger and Pécoud, 2010) on the manufacturing of African migration policies are embedded in the strategies of state and non-state actors, at regional, national and local scales, with a view to (re)legitimising themselves, turning them into a resource, or repositioning themselves. International dynamics are thus embedded in contexts with multiple variables — whether social, identity-based (Bensaâd, 2009) or political — and in border mobilisation and administrative practices (Savio Vammen, et al., 2021; Cold-Ravnkilde, 2021), which in turn feed into and orient international dynamics.

However, we do not consider states as the only units of analysis and development of migration policies. Our approach aims to study the movement of people in relation to other factors that structure the political economy of mobility, beyond states. In this topical collection, following the perspective developed by Glick Schiller and Salazar (2013), we use the concept of “mobility regimes” to explore the relationships and tensions between different modalities of access to mobility, both from an intersectional (Freedman et al., 2023; Cortés Maisonave, 2023) and a multiscalar (Ahouga, 2016) perpective. This concept allows us to grasp both the power relations produced in mobilities, but also to understand their temporalities and their transformations, beyond a stato-centric or only “internationalist” approach. Examining the regimes of mobilities invites us to take into account of the imaginaries of migration from a dialectical perspective, by looking at the points of connection, the intermediate figures, the tensions between immobile “locals” and privileged migrations (Mary, 2020), and the imaginaries of sedentariness and the right to settle.

This topical collection thus invites a change of perspective, giving actors and contexts a prominent place in the study of migration policies in several countries of the continent. By crossing various disciplines and scales of analysis, it seeks to question the way in which “external” migration dynamics meet African social and political “terrains” (Grovogui, 1996; Behrends et al., 2014), but also to rethink the boundary between what can be considered exogenous to the continent and what is endogenous in the manufacturing of migration policies and practices.

In this perspective, this topical collection aims to bring together different research studies that have in common the exploration of the construction of mobility regimes in Africa.

Problematic Axes

The first entry in this topical collection focuses on the formulation of public action by African states in the field of migration. Taking into account the internationalised, multi-actor and extraverted nature of public policies in Africa (Lavigne Delville, 2017), state action cannot be reduced to a mechanical transposition of norms and models from outside. It is therefore necessary to examine the capacity of African states to negotiate, despite the asymmetry that characterises relations with the Nords, their commitments in treaties and agreements and, more broadly, in the new policy directions in the area of migration. It is also worth looking at the controversies that drive the production of national narratives on migration, and putting them into perspective over time (Darbon and Provini 2018). This approach allows us to show that public action crosses other cleavage lines than those of the relationship between national institutions and international donors. It invites us to study the articulation between interests, ideas, institutions and actors in the formulation of public action on migration. Which categories of actors are involved in the making of migration policies and when? To what extent are they reconfigured by migration issues and debates? From a more specifically legal point of view, are the old and new legislative and regulatory frameworks the product of simple “mimicry”? Or are they rather the result of a readjustment of transfers of external norms to the social, political and institutional realities of these countries (Acharya, 2004; Hansen and Jonsson, 2014; Adam et al., 2020)? Do they reflect adherence to a useful “zeitgeist” for public authorities (Perrin, 2020)?

The second entry of this topical collection aims to question the diversity of discourses on migration, its representations and the relationship between mobilities and immobilities at the local level. Beyond the representation of an “Africa of free movement”, in which mobilities, like hospitality, are part of “traditions”, what are the practices, strategies and perceptions of “those who stay” compared to “those who leave” or “those who come back”? How can immobility and mobility produce representations which, in turn, intervene in the making of migration policies? The so-called migration management approach, confirmed by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (2018), implies two injunctions: “securing” and “facilitating” mobility at borders. The practices of pushback, expulsion or so-called voluntary return are part of this migratory grammar (Bredeloup, 2015). It encourages the development of technologies at borders, for example biometric practices, in order to better control mobilities (Awenengo Dalberto et al., 2021; Dauchy, 2023). To what extent do discrimination and harassment at borders or in administrations constitute forms of resistance to reformist injunctions and do they reflect realities that are distinct from official discourse? How do these distortions persist in a context of revived pan-Africanism and what do they tell us about the applicability of these injunctions? How can these hiatus be documented?

The third entry of this topical collection aims to explore the effects that the implementation of migration policies has on groups and individuals at particular local scales. How do policies contribute to transform the practices of certain social groups, whether in terms of practices (of mobility, economic or social), or forms of mobilisation and commitment? What are their effects on biographical trajectories (migratory, social, individual or collective)? How do migration policies transform social or political hierarchies? If the tightening of migration policies in Europe and Africa is leading to a diversification of migration routes (Brachet et al., 2011), so-called transit migrations can also be transformed into settlements, and invite us to reconsider migrants' strategies in the light of career or entrepreneurial logics. This entry also focuses on actors and their multiple intermediary positions (Lewis and Mosse, 2006; Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan, 2014; Maâ, 2022) at the interface between national, regional and international policies. When coupled with development issues, how do migration policies promote brokering practices between social groups and development actors, in particular in favour of “anti-transit” (Ayouba Tinni, 2022) or “community stabilisation”?


  • Start of the call: June 1st, 2023
  • Deadline to send abstracts and closure of the call: September 1st, 2023

  • Selection and decision: Octobre 1st, 2023
  • Deadline to send articles: February 1st, 2024
  • Peer-review Deadline to send articles in their latest version: August 1st, 2024
  • Publication: December 2024

Submission Modalities

Proposals for articles should be written in French or English, and should include the author’s affiliation, a title and an abstract (1,000 words or 7,000 characters spaces included). They should clearly present the method, the data and the empirical and theoretical contribution of the article to the theme of the topical collection. They can come from different disciplines of the social sciences, and should be sent to camille.cassarini[at]gmail.com, alizeedauchy[at]gmail.com and franck.temporal[at]ceped.org

before September 1st, 2023.

Articles can be in French, English or Spanish.

Texts need to conform to house style (https://journals.openedition.org/remi/5849)

Contact: remi@univ-poitiers.fr

Selection Committee/Coordination

  • Camille Cassarini (Postdoctoral Researcher in geography, ERC Solroutes, Visual Sociology Laboratory at the University of Genoa, associate at the LPED — IRD-AMU —, Fellow of the Convergence Institute Migration)
  • Alizée Dauchy (PhD candidate in political science at the Institute of European Studies — IEE — of the Université Saint-Louis (Brussels), visiting at LPED (IRD-AMU)
  • Franck Temporal (Sociodemographer, Senior Lecturer, CEPED, Paris Descartes University)


Acharya Amitav (2004) How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Institutional Change in Asian Regionalism, International Organization, 58 (2), pp. 239-275.

Adam Ilke, Trauner Florian, Jegen Léonie and Roos Christof (2020) West African interests in (EU) migration policy. Balancing domestic priorities with external incentives, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46 (15), pp. 3101-3118.

Ahouga Younes (2018) The local turn in migration management: The IOM and the engagement of local authorities, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44 (9), pp. 1523-1540.

Awenengo Dalberto Sandrine, Banégas Richard et Cutolo Armando (2018) Biomaîtriser les identités ? État documentaire et citoyenneté au tournant biométrique, Politique africaine, 152, pp. 5-29.

Ayouba Tinni Bachirou (2022) Externalisation des politiques migratoires européennes au Niger : reconfigurations des lieux et des trajectoires des migrants, Thèse de doctorat en géographie, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey.

Bayart Jean-François (1989) L’État en Afrique. La politique du ventre, Paris, Fayard.

Behrends Andrea, Park Sung-Joon and Rottenburg Richard (2014) Travelling Models in African Conflict Management: translating technologies of social ordering, Leiden, Brill.

Bensaâd Ali (2009) Le Maghreb à l'épreuve des migrations subsahariennes. Immigration sur émigration, Paris, Karthala Éditions.

Bierschenk Thomas and Olivier de Sardan Jean-Pierre (2014) States at work: dynamics of African bureaucracies, Leiden, Brill.

Boswell Christina (2003) The “External Dimension” of EU Immigration and Asylum Policy. International Affairs, 79 (3), pp. 619-638.

Brachet Julien, Choplin Armelle et Pliez Olivier (2011) Le Sahara entre espace de circulation et frontière migratoire de l’Europe, Hérodote, 3 (142), pp. 163-182.

Bredeloup Sylvie (2015) Introduction : terrains revisités en migrations africaines, Afrique et Développement, 40 (1), pp. 1-17.

Cassarini Camille (2020) L’immigration subsaharienne en Tunisie : de la reconnaissance d’un fait social à la création d’un enjeu gestionnaire, Migrations Société, 32 (1), pp. 43-57.

Cassarino Jean-Pierre (2018) Beyond the Criminalisation of Migration: A Non-western Perspective, International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 4 (4), pp. 397-411.

Cold-Ravnkilde Signe Marie (2021) Borderwork in the Grey zone: Everyday resistance within European border control initiatives in Mali, Geopolitics, 27 (5), pp. 1450-1469.

Cortés Maisonave Almudena (2023) Régimes de mobilité et ordre genré : le cas de Puebla au Mexique, in Aurélie Leroy Éd., Migrations en tout « genre », Paris, Éditions Syllepse, pp. 149-165.

Darbon Dominique et Provini Olivier (2018) « Penser l’action publique » en contextes africains : Les enjeux d'une décentration, Gouvernement et action publique, 7, pp. 9-29.

Dauchy Alizée (2023) Dreaming biometrics in Niger: The security techniques of migration control in West Africa, Security Dialogue, [online]. URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/09670106231158893

Dauchy Alizée (2020) La loi contre le trafic illicite de migrant·es au Niger. État des lieux d’un assemblage judiciaire et sécuritaire à l’épreuve de la mobilité transnationale, Anthropologie & développement, 51, pp. 121-136.

Deridder Marie et Pelckmans Lotte (Dirs.) (2020) Perspectives ouest-africaines sur les politiques migratoires et sécuritaires européennes, Anthropologie & développement, 51, pp. 7-186.

El Qadim Nora (2018) The symbolic meaning of international mobility: EU – Morocco negotiations on visa facilitation, Migration Studies, 6 (2), pp. 279-305.

Freedman Jane, Latouche Alice, Miranda Adelina, Sahraoui Nina, Santana De Andrade Glenda and Tyszler Elsa (Eds.) (2023) The Gender of Borders: Embodied Narratives of Migration, Violence and Agency, London, Routledge.

Frowd Philippe M. (2018) Security at the Borders: Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Gaibazzi Paolo, Bellagamba Alice and Dünnwald Stephan (Eds.) (2017) EurAfrican Borders and Migration Management: Political Cultures, Contested Spaces, and Ordinary Lives, London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Gammeltoft-Hansen Thomas (2006) Outsourcing Migration Management: EU, power, and the external dimension of asylum and immigration policy, DIIS Working Paper, [online]. URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/84606/1/DIIS2006-01.pdf

Geiger Martin and Pécoud Antoine (Eds.) (2010) The Politics of International Migration Management, London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Glick Schiller Nina and Salazar Noel B. (2013) Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39 (2), pp. 183-200.

Grovogui Siba N’Zatioula (1996) Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-Determination in International Law, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

Hansen Peo and Jonsson Stefan (2014) Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism, London, Bloomsbury.

Lavigne Delville Philippe (2017) Pour une socio-anthropologie de l’action publique dans les pays « sous régime d’aide », Anthropologie & développement, 45, pp. 33-64.

Lewis David and Mosse David (Eds.) (2006) Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies, West Hartford, Kumarian Press.

Maâ Anissa (2023) Autonomy of migration in the light of deportation. Ethnographic and theoretical accounts of entangled appropriations of voluntary returns from Morocco, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 41 (1), pp. 92-109.

Mary Kevin (2020) Le (double) passeport des élites africaines. Être et rester cosmopolite au Mali grâce à l’acquisition d’une seconde citoyenneté, Politique africaine, 3 (159), pp. 125-144.

Pécoud Antoine (2018) Une nouvelle « gouvernance » des migrations ? Ce que disent les organisations internationales, Mouvements, 1 (93), pp. 41-50.

Perrin Delphine (2020) Dynamiques juridiques et politiques autour des mobilités en Afrique méditerranéenne et sahélienne : inspirations, ambitions et contraintes, Migrations Société, 1 (179), pp. 75-89.

Savio Vammen Ida Marie, Cold-Ravnkilde Signe and Lucht Hans (2021) Borderwork in the Expanded EU-African Borderlands, Geopolitics, 27 (5), pp. 1317-1330.


  • Friday, September 01, 2023


  • politique migratoire, gouvernement international des migrations, externalisation, mobilité, sédentarité, frontière, migration policies, international government of migration, externalisation, mobilities, sedentarities, borders


  • Camille Cassarini
    courriel : camille [dot] cassarini [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Alizée Dauchy
    courriel : alizeedauchy [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Franck Temporal
    courriel : franck [dot] temporal [at] ceped [dot] org

Information source

  • Audrey Montépini
    courriel : remi [at] univ-poitiers [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« In the manufacture of mobility regimes in Africa », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1bet

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