Public Lecture: Terms of detachment: Aloneness as potential in West African migration, Speaker: Michael Stasik, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity


19 October 2021, via Zoom


Studies of African migration, and of migration in and from West Africa, in particular, commonly place group relations and efforts front and center. Migration is presented as a collective practice oriented towards making and maintaining relatedness, both at home and abroad. In this talk, I challenge this groupist bias and the one-sided view of relatedness it purports. Drawing on my research with West African migrants in urban Ghana, I probe the other side of relatedness in migration: that of detached relations, and of the emic and analytical potential afforded by the states of aloneness that social and geographical distance produces. The lens of aloneness, I suggest, not only brings into sharp relief how affective resonances of loneliness and longing shape migrant experiences, but it also helps to redress the place of detachment in ideas about mobility, kinship and social becoming.

Michael Stasik is an anthropologist working on the intersection of urban cultures, economies and mobilities in West Africa. He is postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and currently MIASA senior fellow.