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Affective Circuits

African Migrations to Europe and the Pursuit of Social Regeneration

Affective Circuits

African Migrations to Europe and the Pursuit of Social Regeneration

The influx of African migrants into Europe in recent years has raised important issues about changing labor economies, new technologies of border control, and the effects of armed conflict. But attention to such broad questions often obscures a fundamental fact of migration: its effects on ordinary life. Affective Circuits brings together essays by an international group of well-known anthropologists to place the migrant family front and center. Moving between Africa and Europe, the book explores the many ways migrants sustain and rework family ties and intimate relationships at home and abroad. It demonstrates how their quotidian efforts—on such a mass scale—contribute to a broader process of social regeneration.
The contributors point to the intersecting streams of goods, people, ideas, and money as they circulate between African migrants and their kin who remain back home. They also show the complex ways that emotions become entangled in these exchanges. Examining how these circuits operate in domains of social life ranging from child fosterage to binational marriages, from coming-of-age to healing and religious rituals, the book also registers the tremendous impact of state officials, laws, and policies on migrant experience. Together these essays paint an especially vivid portrait of new forms of kinship at a time of both intense mobility and ever-tightening borders.

352 pages | 23 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


“A brilliant synthesis of affect theory and migration studies that describes in compelling detail the intimate life-worlds of Africans seeking various forms of personal transformation in Europe. Particularly edifying are the contributors’ meticulous analyses of the economic, ethical, and emotional connections migrants negotiate and struggle to sustain between home and the global north, and their incisive critiques of current governmental, legal, and media responses to migration in Europe.”

Michael Jackson, author of The Wherewithal of Life

“The notion of ‘affective circuits’ gives this collection a rare coherence. It serves to link the increasing pressure of the law and material remittances—often central in studies of the plight of African migrants in Europe—to the realm of emotions and the emphasis on mobility as a way of life in many African societies. Evoking both shifting flows and dramatic short-circuits, this collection lifts the study of migration from the global South to new levels.”

Peter Geschiere, author of The Perils of Belonging

“A sparkling set of essays that map the intimacies and innovations of migrant kinship and belonging across the Africa-Europe divide. Filled with smart theory and vivid case studies—of transnational marriage, sexual triads, state-sponsored polygyny, agonistic family ordeals, child fostering, drug mules, Congolese sapeurs, and a range of other material-affective circuits—this elegant collection advances migration studies in new and unexpected directions, while also reanimating that old topic—the anthropology of kinship—that never goes away.”

Charles Piot, author of Nostalgia for the Future

Table of Contents

Introduction: Affective Circuits and Social Regeneration in African Migration:
1. Translations in Kinscripts: Child Circulation among Ghanaians Abroad:
2. Forging Belonging through Children in the Berlin-Cameroonian Diaspora:
3. Photography and Technologies of Care: Migrants in Britain and Their Children in the Gambia:
4. Transnational Health-Care Circuits: Managing Therapy among Immigrants in France and Kinship Networks in West Africa:
5. “Assistance but Not Support”: Pentecostalism and the Reconfiguring of Relatedness between Kenya and the United Kingdom:
6. The Paradox of Parallel Lives: Immigration Policy and Transnational Polygyny between Senegal and France:
7. Men Come and Go, Mothers Stay: Personhood and Resisting Marriage among Mozambican Women Migrating to Europe:
8. Giving Life: Regulating Affective Circuits among Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France:
9. Life’s Trampoline: On Nullification and Cocaine Migration in Bissau:
10. From Little Brother to Big Somebody: Coming of Age at the Gare du Nord:
11. Circuitously Parisian: Sapeur Parakinship and the Affective Circuitry of Congolese Style


Council on Anthropology and Reproduction: Council on Anthropology and Reproduction Book Award

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