The movements of people create new social spaces while potentially transforming the institutional, economic, and physical infrastructure around them. Informed by comparative politics, human geography, and sociology this theme explores the constitution of social subjectivities and citizenship across a diverse of African sites which are origins, stations or destinations for people on the move. Using quantitative, qualitative and visual methodologies to explore how human mobility is reshaping Africa’s socio-economic landscape across multiple dimensions: migratory trajectories and patterns of on-going mobility; linguistic, ethnic and religious heterogeneity; economic inequality, institutional and organizational affiliations, nationality, ethnicity, sex, household structure, and translocal connections and social networks.
This theme includes the work of the South African Research Chair in Mobility and the Politics of Difference. This area of work assembles a constellation of themes configured around questions of space, power, and the meanings of political community and identity within fluid, often translocal sites and ‘urban estuaries’. At an empirical level this includes multi-city, cross-national statistical surveys complemented by highly localized political ethnographies in Southern and Eastern Africa. Almost all of this work is collaborative, undertaken with local and international partners, colleagues, and graduate students. Reflecting a diversity of interests, the results speak to multiple audiences across the social sciences and public domain. The current locus of work is an effort to integrate multiple scales of analysis in ways that speak to fundamental empirical and ethical questions about mobility’s role in reshaping political community and citizenship in sub-Saharan Africa.