Soft EU Borders in Africa. How Migration Campaigns and Social Media affect Young Senegalese Men’s Migration Aspirations and Sense of Social Justice

The EU, UN and individual member states dedicate many resources to migration campaigns in Africa to discourage people from coming into Europe without proper documentation. These campaigns have been described as the EU’s soft borders. At the same time, there are very few possibilities for young Africans to migrate through official channels, leaving many African youth in a state of ‘waithood’. Waithood is a concept coined by scholar Alcinda Honwana to describe the predicament of African youth in which they are not allowed to leave, but their own countries offer them very little prospects for entering adulthood as workers, heads of family and to fulfil their dreams. This project proposes a two-part ethnographic investigation into the production and reception of migration campaigns in Senegal, where EU and UN campaigns have been particularly strong. The first part focuses on the production of the campaigns and the second part on how campaigns are perceived by would-be migrants, focusing on youth (16-25 years old). Social media and more generally the Internet is a way for would-be migrants to receive migration campaigns but they also bring images and information about other populations for whom international mobility is much easier and even encouraged. How does social media and the Internet more broadly affect young Senegalese’s sense of social justice and what effects does this have on their migration aspirations, and how they perceive, interpret and react upon migration campaigns? This research combines theoretical perspectives from migration and science and technology studies to gain a better understanding of the relationships between ICTs, youth and migration. Fluency in French is required and in Wolof, preferable.

Researcher: Cecilia Schenetti (see profile)

Supervisors: Valentina Mazzucato, Sally Wyatt, Djamila Schans (see profiles)