Cosmologies of destinations: rootes and routes of Eritrean forced migration towards Europe

Belloni, Milena (2015) Cosmologies of destinations: rootes and routes of Eritrean forced migration towards Europe. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Cosmologies of destinations investigates some commonly neglected dimensions of forced migration. It examines the key symbolic structures and social mechanisms which encourage and sustain the mobility trajectories of Eritreans from their home country to Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and beyond. The central argument is that, in refugee-producing countries which suffer from protracted crisis and livelihood disruption, refugee movements become much more than a form of reactive mobility. Within these communities, becoming a refugee is not only a way to escape oppressive conditions but also the outcome of socially and symbolically embedded strategies aimed at personal realization and family well-being. Building on a multi-sited ethnography of the everyday life of Eritrean refugees in a number of settings (including homes, refugee camps, urban squats, and other settings of sociability) in their home country as well as in Ethiopia, Sudan and Italy, the thesis explores the range of social and economic resources needed to circumvent legal and geographic borders, and the moral and cultural norms that underpin these practices. It contributes to the theorization of refugee mobility, which is currently somewhat underdeveloped, by providing a framework to analyse high-risk forced migration, based on an emic understanding and systematic description of the living conditions, life aspirations and risk perceptions of Eritreans in their home country and in transit to Europe. The study feeds into the broader debate on the blurring boundaries between labour and forced migration by emphasising the social and cultural, along with the structural, determinants of mobility and immobility. The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first analyses the conditions that make exit a widespread and legitimate, albeit controversial, option for young people in Eritrea. The second chapter provides accounts of refugees' everyday lives in the first safe countries (Ethiopia and Sudan), chronicling the dynamics that trigger secondary movements towards Europe. The third analyses the lives of Eritrean refugees in Italy, documenting the conditions that activate further mobility within Europe. The fourth chapter describes the migratory infrastructures that allow for these refugee movements, including the role played by transnational marriages, smugglers and family networks. The final chapter provides a micro-analysis of decision-making, aimed at explaining the willingness of refugees to take great risks at different stages of the migration process. A methodological note narrates how the research was carried out in the various sites and analyses the implications of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with refugees.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:27
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/08 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI CULTURALI E COMUNICATIVI
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/13 STORIA E ISTITUZIONI DELL'AFRICA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/07 SOCIOLOGIA GENERALE
Uncontrolled Keywords:Determinants of Eritrean forced migration; protracted crises; multi-sited ethnography; Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Italy; aspirations in forced migration; culture of migration; migration and youth in Africa; gender in forced migration; Asmara; secondary movements; the role of remittances in Eritrea and in exile; refugees' livelihood strategies in camps and urban areas; the international asylum regime and its implications; Khartoum and Addis Ababa; Ethiopian refugee camps; responses to protracted displacement; refugees' migration strategies; transnational marriages; the role of transnational kin networks in forced migration; smuggling organisation; high-risk migration; Eritrean refugees in Italy; Eritrean diaspora; refugees' housing arrangements; squats in Rome; refugees as gamblers.
Repository Staff approval on:17 Dec 2015 10:52

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