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Bush Bound: Young Men and Rural Permanence in Migrant West Africa

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Bush Bound

Young Men and Rural Permanence in Migrant West Africa

Paolo Gaibazzi

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from University of Bayreuth and the Heisenberg Programme of the German Research Council.

232 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-779-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (August 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78533-827-4 $19.95/£15.95 / Pb / Published (April 2018)


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“The book is an important piece of scholar- ship that demonstrates the continuing actuality and relevance of ‘bush ethnography,’… In the tradition of the best anthropological work, it complicates our understanding of migration, highlighting the concept of permanence to counter both the Gambian state’s rhetoric on youths’ dreams of migration and the discourses of invasion by European populists. Thanks to its balanced mixture of historical documentation, quantitative data, and qualitative ethnography, this book will appeal equally to readers in migration studies and specialists of the Mande area.” • African Studies Review

“At a macro-micro level, this timely book exposes global transformations found in current globalist market economy and sheds light on the influences on these transformations as actualized at local level.” • Anthropology Book Forum

“The book’s strength lies in its innovative approach to analysing mobility and permanence as mutually constituting parts, with a keen concern with interpersonal relationships…Overall, Gaibazzi’s analysis of the symbiotic relationship between permanence and migration advances our understanding of migration beyond the Marxist insights. In particular, his explanation of young men embrace of rural permanence in Sabi calls for a reconsideration of current discourses and representations of West Africa as a region constantly on the move.” • Anthropological Forum

“… a readable, nuanced, and timely monograph, complemented by a glossary and by original photographs and maps. It responds to the under-theorization of emplacement in migration and transnationalism studies. It does so as a rich ethnography of rural permanence and global mobility, thus resisting, for the most part, over-theorizing on the subject.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“[Gaibazzi’s] research achieves a level of analytic clarity that should excite scholars of the contemporary realities of West Africa. With displaced peoples globally reaching numbers not seen since World War II, this contribution is both timely and critical.” • American Ethnologist

Bush Bound is a timely and important, but in ways counterintuitive, contribution to the scholarship on African migration to Europe and elsewhere… a compelling book that should be read by multiple audiences and not just those with an interest in Senegambia. Indeed, its greatest contribution is arguably the way it shifts the focus of the migration debate away from humanitarian platitudes to elucidating the complex, socially embedded (and historically deep) practices and ideas that fuel migration.” • Journal of Modern African Studies

“A very interesting and significant study of young men in The Gambia illustrates the mutual dependence of those who migrate and those who 'sit' in the village and farm, arguing that both are valid forms of 'looking for money' in the modern world and that the village helps maintain social solidarity while inculcating values and skills that are as appropriate for migration as for village life.” • Anthropology Review Database

Bush Bound is, to my knowledge, the only scholarly monograph to examine so extensively the effects of mobility (and restricted mobility) on a migrant-sending community. As such, it offers a crucial complement and counter-weight to the many case studies of migrant communities in the social science literature.” • Bruce Whitehouse, Lehigh University

“This is a very welcome, interesting, and original study … Rather than concentrating on the economic circuits of work and consumption or on the cultures of consumption — a frequent preoccupation in the research on young migrants — the emphasis is on young men’s selfhood, identity, subjectivity, and active social imaginaries.” • Ann Whitehead, University of Sussex

“The chapters … convince the reader that sitting, or immobility, is part of the migration stories from Africa. The theoretical discussions in between the ethnography are interesting, as is his way of weaving in older ideas of anthropological thinkers.” • Mirjam de Bruijn, Leiden University


Whereas most studies of migration focus on movement, this book examines the experience of staying put. It looks at young men living in a Soninke-speaking village in Gambia who, although eager to travel abroad for money and experience, settle as farmers, heads of families, businessmen, civic activists, or, alternatively, as unemployed, demoted youth. Those who stay do so not only because of financial and legal limitations, but also because of pressures to maintain family and social bases in the Gambia valley. ‘Stayers’ thus enable migrants to migrate, while ensuring the activities and values attached to rural life are passed on to the future generations.

Paolo Gaibazzi is a Social Anthropologist and a Research Fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin. In addition to (im)mobility in the Gambia, he has published on West African post-slavery, Euro-African borders and West African Muslim traders in Angola.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Refugee and Migration Studies
Area: Africa

Bush Bound by Paolo Gaibazzi is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with support from University of Bayreuth and the Heisenberg Programme of the German Research Council.

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB

OA ISBN: 978-1-80539-022-0


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