L’économie informelle en Afrique face à la crise de la COVID-19

I have the pleasure to announce a new book by S-SAM grantee Simon Barussaud and Fréderic Lapeyre looking at the informal economy in Africa and Covid-19. While the news in Western Europe and North America may be full of vaccinations and worries about overloading hospitals, it’s easy to forget that for many there’s a different reality characterized by getting by economically. This is especially true for everyone in the informal economy. In this new book (in French), the impact of protection measures in Africa on individuals in the informal economy is examined.

Barussaud, Simon, and Frédéric Lapeyre. 2022. L’économie informelle en Afrique face à la crise de la COVID-19. Louvain-la-Neuve: Éditions Academia.

Invented, invited and instrumentalised spaces: conceptualising non-state actor engagement in regional migration governance in West Africa

I’m happy to announce a new publication by Amanda Bisong, with whom I had the pleasure to collaborate as part of the Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration Network.

The article looks at how non-state actors are involved in regional migration policy processes in ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States). Different types of actors are differentiated: NGO, civil society organizations, academia, and the media, which reminds me very much of the work we do on the politicization of migration elsewhere. Amanda Bisong uses interviews in conjunction with survey results and an extensive analysis of policy documents to demonstrate how spaces are constructed and instrumentalized by different actors. Overall, non-state actors reinforce regional policies and help circumvent restrictive national agendas with innovative regional approaches.

Bisong, Amanda. 2021. “Invented, Invited and Instrumentalised Spaces: Conceptualising Non-State Actor Engagement in Regional Migration Governance in West Africa.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 0(0):1–19. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1972570.

New Publication: Decision-Making Under Uncertainty

I’m happy to announce a new publication, coming out of the Swiss Subsaharan African Migration Network. My direct contribution to this thematic issue was the introduction, where I examine common strands of the articles in the issue. As hinted at in the title, the focus is on decision-making under uncertainty — and migration decisions are the example to explore these issues.

When I write about ‘migrants’ here, let’s be clear that there is enormous heterogeneity in this ‘group’: different motivations, different aspirations, different capabilities, and different strategies to deal with the uncertainty inherent in migration decisions.

We do not observe naïve and gullible migrants ignorant of the risks and dangers of irregular migration, nor do we find masses of ‘victims’ tricked by fraudsters and smugglers. Instead, we observe individuals with aspirations, navigating a world characterized by limitations and boundaries. Information is patchy, but this has as much to do with the changing circumstances and opportunities—each risky to some extent. Under these circumstances, migrants show great flexibility to reach their goals, drawing on heuristics and narratives as is common in decision-making under limited information.


When thinking about migration decisions, it’s better to think about a chain of linked decisions — a chain where circumstances can and do change. In these circumstances, occasionally we also observe what I called “migration velleity” rather than ambition.

Ruedin, Didier. 2021. ‘Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: African Migrants in the Spotlight’. Social Inclusion 9 (1): 182–186. https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i1.4076. Open Access.

Transnational Political Practices and Integration of Second Generation Migrants

Two of the S-SAM grantees just published a paper in JEMS on transnational political practices of so-called second generation migrants (children of immigrants). The paper looks at the ties of immigrants, focusing on transnational political practices. Using qualitative interviews of Ghanaians in Amsterdam, the paper shows that children of immigrants participate in politics in the country of destination and origin at the same time. The authors discuss the apparent contradictions between transnational political engagement and ‘integration’, and also highlight how citizenship policies can push children of immigrants in either direction.
Kyei, Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu, Elizabeth Nana Mbrah Koomson-Yalley, and Peter Dwumah. 2020. ‘Transnational Political Practices and Integration of Second Generation Migrants’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, September. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1816812.
Zufferey, Jonathan, Ilka Steiner, and Didier Ruedin. 2020. ‘The Multiple Forms of Migration: Evidence from a Sequence Analysis in Switzerland 1998 to 2008’. International Migration Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918320914239.

Reminder: Call for Survey Questions & Experiments

This is a reminder for the call for a joint survey, building to a joint publication.

You can contribute (a) survey questions, (b) designs for survey experiments, and (c) interest in survey analysis in the following areas:

— The role of limited information in decisions to migrate
— Aspirations and abilities to migrate
— The role of different narratives of migration
— Immobility (inability or lack of motivation to move)
— Research on the role of trust in migration decisions
— Health and migration

The survey will probably be fielded in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, or a combination of these countries in October 2020.

You are embedded in a university in a Subsaharan African
country or in Switzerland, and study human migration in any relevant discipline.

Deadline: 4 September 2020

Online form: http://neuchatel.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9ulRPsbrISMoJSJ

For further information on the Swiss-Subsaharan Africa Migration Network (S-SAM): http://www.unine.ch/sfm/home/formation/ssam.html