Global Development Institute Blog

A new book fills a research gap on migration into and within Africa, and to the socio-political consequences of these movements. The book ‘Forging African Communities: Mobility, Integration and Belonging’ sheds new light on how human mobility redefines the meaning of home, community, citizenship and belonging.

The authors ask how people’s movements within the continent are forging novel forms of membership while catalysing social change within the communities and countries to which they move and which they have left behind.

Original case studies from across Africa question the concepts, actors, and social trajectories dominant in the contemporary literature. Moreover, it speaks to and challenges sociological debates over the nature of migrant integration, debates largely shaped by research in the world’s wealthy regions.

The books opening chapter, by Oliver Bakewell of The University of Manchester’s Global Development Institute, sets the books scene, in which human mobility fashions new forms of membership in sites around the world, the multiple ways migrants in Africa contribute to processes of social change within the places in which they reside, move through and leave behind.

The books approach approaches human migration as outcomes of broader structural forces and draws attention to migrants, hosts, politicians and others as active, strategic and tactical actors at play within structural constraints and opportunities.

Chapters focus on Burundian refugees in Tanzania, artisanal fishing immigrants in Congo, transnational trajectories of sub-Saharan migrants, migrants at the Zambian-Angolan borders, tactical Creolisation and migrant Pentecostal churches in post-apartheid South African, Nigerian male migrant traders in Harare,  Nigerians and Chinese mixity in the DRC and seeking belonging in Kampala’s urban space.

About the editors

Oliver Bakewell is Senior Lecturer at the Global Development Institute, The University of Manchester, UK and former Director of the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford.
Loren Landau is South African Research Chair in Mobility and the Politics of Diversity at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Praise for ‘Forging African Communities: Mobility, Integration and Belonging’

“This timely book represents a major contribution to our understanding of social, economic, political, and cultural processes related to human mobility in general and contemporary African migrations in particular. Its welcomed focus on agency and processes helps to bring new theoretical insights to the analysis of social change in migration contexts. The vivid case studies presented here challenge in a novel way old concepts and theories about migration that were predominantly based on empirical data collected among migrants in Western destinations. No doubt this book will be beneficial to the study of contemporary mobility and migration in the context of wealth countries across the globe.”

Abdoulaye Kane, University of Florida, USA, and Co-editor of African Migration: Patterns and Perspectives

“Forging African Communities’ is an ambitious book that successfully achieves a dual mission. First and foremost, the diverse analyses of attachments, adaptations, and tactics come together as an illuminating account of contemporary migration within Africa—a staggeringly understudied phenomenon. More subtly, the book challenges standard concepts that reflect entrenched research and policy agendas in the Global North. The primary one is ‘integration’ which, if we are to keep using it, merits a refreshing overhaul in light of the analyses presented in this book.”

Jørgen Carling, Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway

Purchase the book

Note: This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole


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