Summer School: Intra-Regional Migration In Africa: Logics, Practices And Challenges Miasa, Network Point Sud And Centre For Migration Studies, University Of Ghana


University of Ghana. Accra, 23rd-28th May 2019

Intra-regional migration in Africa – voluntarily or forced – is by far the most dominant form on the continent compared to African migration to Europe or other parts of the world. The history of migration in Africa dates back to pre-colonial times. The movement of people has always been at the centre of commercial exchanges before the colonial conquest. The valorization of the colonies perpetuated this “tradition”, drawing notably on a system of an “imported” workforce in the development poles created in Africa. The development of a market economy and globalization have reinforced and accentuated these movements. Migration is thus even considered as a lifestyle by certain sections of the population.

According to the World Bank, two thirds of the growing number of migrants from sub-Saharan states migrates to other countries in the region. Hence, intra-regional migration in Africa poses major challenges to the states and populations concerned. It also constitutes an object of investigation for African and non-African scholars. Despite its importance in terms of numbers, intra-regional migration in African is under researched compared to African migration to other continents. Thus, current research in this domain is dominated by the analysis of causes, implications and mechanisms of control of migration from Africa to Europe.
To contribute to the remediation of this imbalance, the newly established Merian Institute of Advanced Studies (MIASA) at the University of Ghana in Accra and the network Point Sud will organize a Summer School to bring together a group of young researchers (PhD-students and post-docs) and senior scholars from various disciplines who are working on different aspects of intra-regional migration in Africa. The objective of the summer school is twofold. Firstly, it aims to confront different disciplinary approaches in order to stimulate a fruitful dialogue about theories, methods and fields of investigation related to the subject. Secondly, the summer school seeks to shift away from the over-emphasis on current dominant perspectives on migration in Africa.
Following a comparative perspective, this interdisciplinary dialogue will permit to discern the commonalities and specificities with regard to different forms and dimensions of the intra-regional migration in Africa. The summer school does not have an ambition to cover every dimension of African migration. Instead, it will delimit the field through focusing on three principal axis:

Axis 1: Logics, practices and history of Migration (why and how?)

  •  Which forms of intra-regional migration in Africa can be distinguished (labor migration, irregular migration, forced migration caused by conflicts and climate change etc.)?
  •  What are the inter-linkages among these forms?
  •  What are the profiles of these migrants?
  •  What are the characteristics and symbols of the intra-regional migration?
  •  How is the intra-regional migration in Africa occurring?
  •  Which routes are used by migrants and how are they constituted?
  •  What forms can be distinguished with regard to the time aspects (cyclical/ seasonal migration versus more permanent forms)?
  •  What else are moving besides people (goods, capital, ideas and knowledge)?
  •  What networks are used / constituted to facilitate migration and what are their interconnections?
  •  How are boarders perceived by migrants?
  •  What vulnerabilities exist for migrants along the routes?

Axis 2: Admission and Integration of Migrants
This axis questions the integration of intra-regional migrants from the institutional perspective as well as “seen from below”. The set up of regional and sub-regional bodies like ECOWAS in order to facilitate economic and social integration of the population in a delimited space is constantly contested, supported or extended by informal modes of integration. The question is therefore not only about understanding the interrelations between the institutional and informal levels of integration but also concerning the following:

  • What are the reasons for settlement?
  • Which modes of entry and integration of migrants can be distinguished?
  • What are the basis of inclusion and exclusion of the migrants?
  • What state policies and practices (legislation, citizenship, employment policies, social protection policies) exist concerning the integration of migrants?
  • What integration strategies are adopted by the migrants or are available to them (networks, role of religion, Diaspora, economy, social media etc.)?
  • How do migrants relate with host communities and what challenges are associated (identity, ethnicity, land conflicts)?
  • How are relations with “the other” perceived in the context of inter-regional migration (hospitality, xenophobia, social exclusion, etc.)?

Axis 3: Inter-Regional Migration and Relations to the Countries of Origin
African Diasporas are at the core of current African politics. This stems from the fact that they are an important target group for public action in terms of measures for socio-economic transformations. Beyond activities like the regroupings by sub-regional organizations, African states are also adopting measures which address the Diasporas directly. Furthermore, the
financial investments by members of the Diasporas are well expected and their implication for national elections can often unleash conflicts. In general, migrants maintain relations with their countries of origin in many ways, which are also influenced by the conditions and motivations for their migration. Points of interest in this domain are the following, among others:

  • Migration and local development (transfer of funds / remittances, political participation)
  • The migration experience
  • Gender issues and intra-regional migration in Africa
  • Children of migrants (second and third generation in the Diaspora) and national affiliation / citizenship

Challenges of Multidisciplinary Research on Intra-regional Migration in Africa
Migration in Africa has regained scientific interest over the past few decades. For a long time, migration has been considered as an object of investigation belonging to certain disciplines. Today, migration is studied by a wide range of disciplines. This multidisciplinary approach is fruitful and contributes to widening and deepening of analysis in the field of study, to enrich concepts and to propose new theories. At the same time, this richness invites us to question the very state of knowledge production on intra-regional migration in Africa.

  •  Which theories and concepts are used to analyze the intra-regional migration in Africa?
  •  Can these theories and concepts adequately capture the realities in Africa?
  •  Which methodological challenges arise (data sources, problem of lack of data, unreliable data, etc.)?

A scientific exchange on theories, concepts and methods applied in research on intra-regional migration in Africa is at the heart of the summer school. Three basic approaches will guide the program:

  1. The participants will gain a theoretical input on various aspects of the topic by senior scholars specialized in Anthropology, Economy, Law, History, Geography, Sociology, among others. Part of the methodology is also the reading and discussion of important scientific articles which will be made available to all participants in a reader before the summer school.
  2. Another key element will be the presentation by the young scholars of their current research on intra-regional migration in Africa. The projects will be discussed and thus enriched at the plenary sessions.
  3. Other activities include visit to migration and related institutions in Accra and discussion with their representatives. The institutions will be chosen according to their implication and relevance for the theme of the summer school.

The summer school will be organized within the framework of the activities of MIASA at the University of Ghana; Legon, Accra in collaboration with the first Interdisciplinary Fellowship Group (IFG) of MIASA working group on “Migration, Mobility and Forced Displacement”.
For the first two days of the summer school, the participants will have the opportunity to join the final conference of the IFG at which presentations on the results of their fellowship group will be made. This will give the young scholars of the summer school the opportunity for further networking with the international fellows of the IFG.

Application: Qualification and Guidelines

  • The call is open for doctoral and postdoctoral students doing research on one of the axis mentioned above.
  • Post-doctoral candidates should have defended their thesis no longer than five years ago.
  • Doctoral students should be in an advanced stage of their project and should be able to present first results of their research.
  • Candidates should relate their application to one of the axes mentioned above.
  • Candidates should have good skills in English and/or French language.
  • Candidates are required to send an abstract of their research (500 words maximum), a CV with current academic affiliation and a letter of motivation.
  • Please send your application via email by 4th February 2019 to the following address:

Practical Aspects

  •  The Summer School is financed by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies (MIASA) and organized in collaboration with the network Program Point Sud, the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra and the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main in Germany.
  •  The entire cost for each participant (travel, accommodation, meals, etc.) will be covered by MIASA.
  •  The working languages will be English and French.
  •  The summer school will take place from the 23rd to 28th May 2019 at the Centre for Migration Studies in Accra/Ghana.
  •  For additional information please contact: