Exploring diasporas within Africa

Seminar date: 
20 May 2009
Speaker(s): Oliver Bakewell

Oliver Bakewell is a Research Officer at IMI. His research interests include the changing patterns of migration within Africa; the relationship between migration and development; the interface between migration policy and migrants' behaviour, in particular the attitudes towards and use of papers (passports, ID cards, visas etc.); forced migration, repatriation and humanitarian aid. He is working on the IMI's African Migrations Programme and the African Perspectives on Human Mobility Programme Foundation and conducting research in collaboration with colleagues in Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana and DR Congo.

There is a growing body of research and literature on African diasporas and great interest in seeing how they contribute to development within the continent. However, the concept is usually applied to Africans living outside the continent. People living in one African country who look to their origins in another are rarely described as a being members of a diaspora. Africa is portrayed as a continent which generates diasporas rather than one in which diasporas can be found. Is it the case that relatively few diasporas have formed within Africa, or is this merely a reflection of a pattern of research that has not paid sufficient attention to the continent? In this seminar, I will look at some of the reasons for this absence of Africa in the diaspora literature and why it is important to explore processes of diapora formation within the continent.