Panel 37

African migrants’ vulnerability, regional social policy development, and pan-africanist ideals

Panel organisers: Christal O. Spel, Social and Public Policy, University of Helsinki, Finland and Jimi Adesina, DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Social Policy, College of Graduate Studies, University of South Africa.


This panel explores contemporary African migrants’ vulnerability from a social policy and pan-Africanist perspective that links migrants’ welfare to the development of African regional social policy and integration. From a Social Policy perspective, this panel seeks to move beyond the traditional state-centric framework for Social Policy to explore contemporary African migrants’ vulnerability from a regional perspective that incorporates or proposes a regional prerogative of care for African migrants. In this sense, the activities and policies of regional institution to facilitate the integration of African migrants to host societies and or facilitate improvements in the welfare of African migrants in host society is placed under scrutiny. In addition, the capacity of African migrants to self-organize for optimization of individual and group welfare irrespective of national tensions also becomes relevant.

From a regional integration perspective, we call attention to contemporary pan-Africanist interests on integration and social cohesion, pursued through trade pacts beyond traditional sub-regions such as the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA), and political interests to promote self-determination in the African Union. In that vein, the works of renowned and unapologetic Africanists such as Archie Mafeje that espouses the ideals of Africa-centered paradigms and empirical frameworks becomes relevant in the examination of African migration. However, pan-Africanist ideals are also challenged by current African migrants’ experiences of vulnerability, brutality and xenophobia from the north (e.g. Morocco and Libya) to the South (e.g. South Africa) of the continent, and the increasing complicit interference of international interests in shaping migration within Africa.

The papers intended for presentation at this panel should explore the conceptual, analytical and empirical linkages between African migrants’ vulnerability, the development of regional social policy, and regional integration. The panel aims to contribute to the debate on African migrants’ welfare beyond the mainstream nation-state framework.

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