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Mobility Makes States
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Mobility Makes States
Migration and Power in Africa

Edited by Darshan Vigneswaran and Joel Quirk

312 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 illus.
Cloth 2015 | ISBN 9780812247114 | $65.00s | Outside the Americas £52.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
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"With its theoretically compelling frame, this well-integrated, empirically rich set of essays helps us understand that human mobility is (and has been) not just something states must manage and contain but a key force that shapes (and has shaped) states' most central features. Countering the persistent but misleading image of the state as exercising power over a static and stationary population, this book shows how human mobility shapes, among other things, a state's spatial features, its strategies for accumulating power and managing resources, and the kinds of national and international political, social and economic actors with which it allies. In our era of mind-boggling population displacements, this innovative book offers crucial new tools for thinking about the complex phenomenon of human mobility."—Lidwien Kapteijns, Wellesley College

"'Mobility makes states, and states make mobility': that is the bold claim made by the editors of this fine volume. Eschewing the tendency to view states solely as agents that prevent mobility, the book focuses on the ways in which states promote and channel human movement for their own purposes. The book reminds us that states may do very different things in different contexts, and that they should not necessarily be judged by a putatively normative European experience. This volume is a major contribution to thinking both about human mobility and about African society and politics that should be read by anyone interested in either."—John Torpey, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Human mobility has long played a foundational role in producing state territories, resources, and hierarchies. When people move within and across national boundaries, they create both challenges and opportunities. In Mobility Makes States, chapters written by historians, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists explore different patterns of mobility in sub-Saharan Africa and how African states have sought to harness these movements toward their own ends.

While border control and intercontinental migration policies remain important topics of study, Mobility Makes States demonstrates that immigration control is best understood alongside parallel efforts by states in Africa to promote both long-distance and everyday movements. The contributors challenge the image of a fixed and static state that is concerned only with stopping foreign migrants at its border, and show that the politics of mobility takes place across a wide range of locations, including colonial hinterlands, workplaces, camps, foreign countries, and city streets. They examine short-term and circular migrations, everyday commuting and urban expansion, forced migrations, emigrations, diasporic communities, and the mobility of gatekeepers and officers of the state who push and pull migrant populations in different directions. Through the experiences and trajectories of migration in sub-Saharan Africa, this empirically rich volume sheds new light on larger global patterns and state making processes.

Contributors: Eric Allina, Oliver Bakewell, Pamila Gupta, Nauja Kleist, Loren B. Landau, Joel Quirk, Benedetta Rossi, Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, Simon Turner, Darshan Vigneswaran.

Darshan Vigneswaran is Codirector of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of Amsterdam, as well as a Senior Researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Joel Quirk is Associate Professor of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is author of The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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