Panel 4

Re-viewing the Gender-Migration nexus

Panel organisers: Titilope F. Ajayi, Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, University of Ghana and Margaret Monyani, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

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This NAD 2018 panel on Gender and Mobility invites papers on any topic related to migration and gender in Africa. We especially welcome papers from early career scholars or current PhD students from across Africa. We welcome paper proposals from a variety of methodological approaches but specifically those that examine the gender-migration nexus in Africa including but not limited to gender and migrant’s security, transnational feminisms, rural-urban migration within unitary states, migrant-led social movements about human rights, transnational migration, refugee management, mobility of gendered ideologies among others.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following;

  1. Cross border marriages and families
  2. Innovative research methods on women and migration
  3. Gender migration and sexualities
  4. Gender migration and culture
  5. Gender space and time
  6. Gender migration and development
  7. Gender and the transition across state boundaries
  8. Gender and post migration
  9. Feminisation of migration
  10. Migration and gender equality
  11. Migration and gender roles
  12. Gendered mobilitys and social change
  13. Violence and gendered migration

Interested participants should send a 300 word abstracts outlining the paper context and argument.

Approved abstracts panel 4

1. Recreating the “Inkundla”: Gender, migration and space in Johannesburg, South Africa

Author: Thatshisiwe T. Ndlovu, Public Affairs Research Institute (Witwatersrand Institute) University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

This article focuses on the interplay between migration, gender and space. In particular, the focus is on how women in South Africa experience the male dominated spaces in the city of Johannesburg. The paper tries to bring an understanding of the place of women in such a male dominated space in Johannesburg. The paper historicises the taxi rank as an extension or creation of this male dominated space which was taken away from black male South African due to male migration into the urban space controlled by white males reducing black African men to young boys. The “inkundla” space was usurped from the men during colonialism when men had to migrate to the city. The article argues that the taxi rank is a recreation of the same patriarchal space for men where they can control and reclaim their dominance. Patriarchal ideas move along as men move to the urban areas forging space in the urban areas and for Johannesburg, the taxi rank has become one such space. The creation of the urban area resulted in the migration of the male into these spaces followed by women. The article historicises the history of the urban and how apartheid emasculated men. The taxi rank creates this new political subject, the space where they create the space in which they can be patriarchal and as such these spaces become dangerous spaces for women. The article relies heavily on interviews and observations conducted at Bree taxi rank and Noord taxi rank located in the core of the city of Johannesburg. These spaces have recorded high levels of gender based violence on women who always find themselves on the wrong side of the “normal” woman behaviour.

2. Swallows from the Sahara: Female Migration in Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah and Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters’ Street

Author: Daniel Chukwuemeka, Department of English and Literary Studies, Godfrey Okoye University Enugu, Nigeria.

This study is set out to group Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah and Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters’ Street with comparative reference to how postcolonial experiences propel their female characters into migration. While a number of European and North American species of sparrows are long-distance migrants, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory. The reversal of this avian metaphor in this presentation is a way of asserting that postcolonial African literature has been expanded by migration literature by moving away from the patriarchal stereotype of the female as weak and docile, with their only function being that of child-bearing, rearing and domestic chores, to its introduction of gender, sexuality and class discourse in relation to female migration. Hence the comparative analysis of female migration experiences in both texts gives us a good understanding of how the female protagonists endlessly recreate themselves through their encounters with social complexities and discriminating experiences of being a female, African minority in a foreign land. This results in their identity going beyond the memories of past and reaching a level of maturity or, as Fanon admits, a sort of participating in the creation of a human social world—that is, a world of reciprocal recognition and adventures. The intellectual tool used to analyze the form of migration from female perspectives is postcolonial criticism vis-ā-vis the question of identity. The methods employed in the analysis include finding out the motive behind the migration of the female characters, unearthing of the result of such migration, which is diasporic-identity formation, and the investigation of the concepts of in-betweenness, borderless cosmopolitanism and transitory identities, concepts that house the basic characteristics to classify a literary work as the literature of migration. In doing this, we find that the themes and motifs of feminist migration literature and the postcolonial female conditions are creatively intertwined in both texts.

Keywords: female / migration / the diaspora / gender / identity

3. Coping with the constraining dynamics of securitisation: A case of Somali women refugees in Nairobi, Kenya

Author: Margaret Monyani, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Contemporary governance of refugees globally is exercised through the prism of crisis, threats and risks especially for host states that seek to “manage” them through regimes of increasing securitization. Indeed, current anxieties associated with global conflict and refugee flows, particularly from the Middle-Eastern and sub-Saharan African migrant itineraries through Northern Africa, have refocused global attention on refugees. Their criminalization by sanctuary-states has in a way led to the growing difficulties of refugees to live decently and without fear in their new, “hosts” settings. This paper is about such global dynamics associated with refugee governance from an African standpoint by focusing on the livelihood situations of Somali women refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. As its main argument, this paper focuses on the growing securitization of refugee management in Kenya which generates increasing challenges for the everyday livelihoods of these urban women refugees and their families which compels them to respond in creative, adaptive ways so as to cope with these constraining dynamics of securitization.The paper specifically aims at exploring the various policies, institutions and practices that constitute the securitisation regime in Kenya and their impact on the safety and dignity of Somali women refugees in Nairobi Kenya, be it social, political or economic.

4. When men care: exploration of shifting gender roles among migrant men in Johannesburg, South Africa

Author: Linda Musariri Chipatiso, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Eileen Moyer.

Migration can shift gender dynamics, gender roles and the traditional family structures. In many Africa countries, caregiving roles and domestic chores are presumed to be the responsibility of women, while men are expected to earn sufficient income to support the household. This division of labour, which is often reinforced via traditionalizing discourses, reinforces gender inequality. This paper draws on data obtained from an anthropological study that aimed to look at masculinities and violence in South Africa. The ethnographic data was obtained from participant observation, in depth interviews and informal conversations which were conducted from June 2017 to February 2018 in the inner city of Johannesburg, South Africa.  This paper focuses on two men who took on caregiving responsibilities, going against their traditional gender norms. Though of distinct background, both men found themselves in a similar predicament resulting from their being migrants living far from home with limited kin networks to call upon in times of need. In short, they were left with little choice but to provide care for people they considered family. Although both men choose to take up the responsibility of providing physical care for others, despite being men and despite going against gendered cultural norms, we hesitate to argue that their behavior be read as evidence of changing gender norms. Neither is it actively questioning the status quo. Rather, it is seems to be a combination of imposition and chance that leads each of them to become a caregiver. Due to the social and economic milieu in which migrants find themselves while living in Johannesburg, they sometimes have to take on non-traditional gender roles, but neither of them celebrates this behavior as enlightened, feminist, or even normal.

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