Many African migrants residing abroad nurture a hope to one day return, at least temporarily, to their home country. In the wake of economic crises in the developed world, alongside rapid economic growth in parts of Africa, the impetus to 'return' is likely to increase. Such returnees are often portrayed as agents of development, bringing with them capital, knowledge and skills as well as connections and experience gained abroad. Yet, the reality is altogether more complex. In this much-needed volume, based on extensive original fieldwork, the authors reveal that there is all too often a gaping divide between abstract policy assumptions and migrants' actual practices. In contrast to the prevailing optimism of policies on migration and development, Africa's Return Migrants demonstrates that the capital obtained abroad is not always advantageous and that it can even hamper successful entrepreneurship and other forms of economic, political and social engagement.
Lisa Akesson is associate professor in social anthropology at the School of Global Studies, the University of Gothenburg, and senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Maria Eriksson Baaz is associate professor at the School of Global Studies, the University of Gothenburg, and senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. She is the co-author (with Maria Stern) of Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? (Zed Books, 2013) and the author of The Paternalism of Partnership (Zed Books, 2005).
1. Introduction - Lisa Akesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz 2. Successive flops and occasional feats: development contributions and thorny social navigation among Congolese return migrants - Maria Eriksson Baaz 3. Diaspora returnees to Somaliland: heroes of development or job-stealing scoundrels? - Laura Hammond 4. Pushing development: a case study of highly skilled male return migration to Ghana - Nauja Kleist 5. 'Come back, invest, and advance the country': policy myths and migrant realities of return and development in Senegal - Giulia Sinatti 6. The role of social capital in post-conflict business development: perspectives from returning migrants in Burundi -Tove Heggli Sagmo 7. Threatening mini-skirts: returnee South Sudanese adolescent girls and social change - Katarzyna Grabska 8. Obstacles and openings: returnees and small-scale businesses in Cape Verde - Lisa Akesson