Lecture: Migration and the Paradoxes of Belonging: Autochthony as a Nervous Language in Africa and Europe - Prof. Dr. Peter Geschiere (University of Amsterdam)

01-03-2019 van 10:00 tot 11:30
Paddenhoek 1, 3rd Floor (3.1)
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Department of Conflict and Development Studies
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DEBATES IN CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT: Reconsidering migration. Unpacking politics, policies & practices Ghent University, Spring 2019

The intensification of migration since the end of the Cold War on a global scale makes belonging an urgent issue, both for migrants and for people in the receiving society. In my presentation I want to focus on the language of autochthony that in the 1990s emerged as a key concept in parts of Europe (Belgium and the Netherlands) but also in Africa. Autochthony –  litt. ‘born from the soil’ – presents itself as a kind or Ur-belonging: how can one belong more than when one can claim to be rooted in the soil. However, just like other discourses on belonging, the concept has paradoxical implications. It may promise a basic security. Yet, in practice, it has a receding quality – again like other claims to belong – that makes it a nervous notion, haunted by basic insecurity.

Peter Geschiere is emeritus professor for the Anthropology of Africa at both the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University; he is also co-editor of ETHNOGRAPHY (SAGE). Since 1971 he has undertaken historical-anthropological field-work in various parts of Cameroon and elsewhere in West and Central Africa. His publications include The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Post-colonial Africa (Univ. Of Virginia Press, 1997), Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship and Exclusion in Africa and Europe (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009),  Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust: Africa in Comparison (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013) and ‘A "Vortex of Identities" – Freemasonry, Witchcraft and Post-colonial Homophobia in Cameroon,’ African Studies Review 60(2), 2017, p. 7-35.