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Global Nomads

An Ethnography of Migration, Islam, and Politics in West Africa

Susanna Fioratta

Publication Date - 13 May 2020

ISBN: 9780197510216

240 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches

In Stock

This absorbing ethnography investigates how mobility abroad shapes belonging at home and shows that political and economic motivations to migrate are important--but they are only part of the story


Countering the traditional narrative of "migration as crisis," Global Nomads tells the story of a group of people for whom migration is not a symptom of a disordered world, but rather an ordinary practice full of social and personal meaning. Decentering migration from North America and Europe, this ethnography explores how ethnic Fulbe people in the West African Republic of Guinea migrate abroad to seek their fortunes and fulfill their responsibilities--and in the process, securing a place at home. Based on twenty-three months of ethnographic research, Global Nomads investigates how mobility abroad shapes belonging at home and shows that political and economic motivations to migrate are important in Guinea, as elsewhere--but they are only part of the story. Family and community expectations, cultural ideals of work, notions of gender, and religious piety all come into play when people dream of going abroad and when they contemplate coming home again. Ultimately, Global Nomads shows how understandings of the past and its connections to the present--of what being a respectable person entails, of individual responsibilities to a larger community--all shape how people live in contexts of insecurity.

Global Nomads is a volume in the series ISSUES OF GLOBALIZATION: CASE STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY, which examines the experiences of individual communities in our contemporary world. Each volume offers a brief and engaging exploration of a particular issue arising from globalization and its cultural, political, and economic effects on certain peoples or groups.

About the Author(s)

Susanna Fioratta is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College.


"Global Nomads is a deeply engaging and innovative multi-sited ethnography of migration as both a practice and a narrative that weaves together many aspects of everyday life, including politics, religious practice, and money. The first book-length ethnographic account of contemporary life amongst the Pular-speaking Fulbe-Fouta of Guinea, Global Nomads is also a critically needed account of Guinea's democratic transition. It is a significant contribution to scholarship on Africa."--Clovis Bergère, University of Pennsylvania

"Based on several years of living with Fulbe in Guinea and in Dakar, this ethnography elaborates on a common paradox about African migration. Migrants claim that they would rather be home, and assert that they have only left because they need to make money--for themselves, and for their families back home--but often aren't making any in the place they've migrated to. So why don't they go home? The answer has to do with personhood--with pride, with feeling as if one has made the effort. In Global Nomads, Fulbe migrants and how migration shapes Fulbe life come alive on the page."--Eric Gable, University of Mary Washington

Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Notes on Language and Transliteration

    Prologue: "Are You Disappointed?"

    Chapter 1. Introduction: Migration, Insecurity, and Belonging
    Chapter 2. Conquering the Fouta Djallon: Historiographies of Insecurity
    Chapter 3. States of Migration: Living the Politics of Mobility
    Chapter 4. "Money is the Key to the World": Evading Uselessness and Seeking Personhood Abroad and at Home
    Chapter 5. "They Have Knowledge, But They Have No Manners": Global Connections and Local Difference among Fouta Djallon Muslims
    Chapter 6. The Promise of Unity

    Conclusions, Moving On, and Going Home


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