£26.99 | $40.95

15 November 2008
ISBN: 9781842779019
272 pages
216 x 138mm


Development and the African Diaspora

Place and the Politics of Home

Edited by Martin Evans, Ben Page, and Claire Mercer

There has been much recent celebration of the success of African 'civil society' in forging global connections through an ever-growing diaspora. Against the background of such celebrations, this innovative book sheds light on the diasporic networks - 'home associations' - whose economic contributions are being used to develop home. Despite these networks being part of the flow of migrants' resources back to Africa that now outweighs official development assistance, the relationship between the flow of capital and social and political change are still poorly understood.

Looking in particular at Cameroon and Tanzania, the authors examine the networks of migrants that have been created by making 'home associations' international. They argue that claims in favour of enlarging 'civil society' in Africa must be placed in the broader context of the political economy of migration and wider debates concerning ethnicity and belonging. They demonstrate both that diasporic development is distinct from mainstream development, and that it is an uneven historical process in which some 'homes' are better placed to take advantage of global connections than others.

In doing so, the book engages critically with the current enthusiasm among policy-makers for treating the African diaspora as an untapped resource for combating poverty. Its focus on diasporic networks, rather than private remittances, reveals the particular successes and challenges diasporas face in acting as a group, not least in mobilising members of the diaspora to fulfill obligations to home.


'This engaging and well-written book offers a richly empirical analysis of the roles of diaspora associations in development back home. Ultimately, the book requires us to rethink many assumptions about the migration-development nexus for Africa, recentering the discussion on nuances, context, heterogeneity, and the everyday lives of people who make these long journeys' - Garth Myers, Kansas University

'This is a timely addition to ongoing discourse on the structure and diverse character of African home associations. The authors' incisive participatory research has convinced them that despite their limitations, these associations offer transformative possibilities. Policy makers, researchers, students, development partners and relevant stakeholders will find the book very informative' - Aderanti Adepoju, Coordinator, Network of Migration Research on Africa

'Showing the entanglement of national and local politics and elites with a sense of obligation and loyalty to place, this original book reveals the limits and potentialities of 'home' associations in the modern development project. A must for overseas developers the book illuminates an important field of enduring interest' - Pnina Werbner, University of Keele

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Acronyms

Part I: Why home associations matter
Chapter 1 - Home associations: between political belonging and moral conviviality
Chapter 2 - Contexts and comparisons
Chapter 3 - Rethinking research on African diasporas and development

Part II - The history and structure of home associations
Chapter 4 - Home associations and the nation in Cameroon
Chapter 5 - Home associations and the nation in Tanzania

Part III - The developmental and political work of African home associations
Chapter 6 - Welfare and social support in the diaspora
Chapter 7 - Modernizing burial and death celebrations
Chapter 8 - Education and inequality
Chapter 9 - Infrastructure and accountability

Part IV: Home associations, migration and development
Chapter 10 - Conclusions

About the Authors:

Ben Page is a lecturer at UCL and his research interests are broadly located within the field of development geography. He is particularly interested in the way African families, communities and places accommodate change. He is also interested in the relations between nature and society and the capacity of things (water, cities, associations, trees, meetings, soil) to provide a commentary on the interdependent relationship between environments and politics. Much of his work has focused on water supply in West Africa as a way of linking different histories and places to broader development questions about communities, the state, infrastructure, services, participatory governance, deliberative democracy and the transformation of the landscape.

Claire Mercer is a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Leicester, UK. Her research is underpinned by a concern to examine critically the material and social consequences of the pursuit of 'development' in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last ten years she has undertaken research in Tanzania and, more recently, Cameroon, and has published on the changing character and work of associational life (NGOs, hometown associations); geographies of governance with a focus on civil society and partnership; the role of the Internet in rural Africa; and postcolonial theories of development.

Martin Evans did his postgraduate studies in Geography at the School of Oriental and African Studies and King’s College London. Besides diasporas and development, his research examines the complex intersections of conflict, natural resources and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes a critique of the ‘greed and grievance’ debate and reappraisal of the concept of ‘war economies’ by resituating them in their historical contexts and amid contemporary global inequity. He is also interested in how people gain their livelihoods in conflict and post-conflict landscapes, with a particular focus on Casamance, Senegal, scene of West Africa’s longest-running civil conflict. His ongoing research there focuses on the return of the long-term displaced to their villages and reconstruction of their homes, infrastructure and the rural economy.