Title: The multiplicity of transit: the waiting and onward mobility of African migrants in the European Union

Authors: Joris Schapendonk

Addresses: Institute for Management Research, Sectie Geografie, Planologie en Milieu, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Postbus 9108, NL-6500 HK Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Abstract: Many African would-be immigrants perceive 'Destination Europe' as one integrated space in which they can easily move to places that meet their aspirations. However, for those who have managed to enter the European Union (EU), reality often appears to be harsher than expected. Using a 'trajectory ethnography' that aims to follow migrants through time-space, this research explores the interplay between the diverse mobility processes of African migrants and EU's mobility regimes that produce what I call the 'multiplicity of transit'. This notion moves away from the idea that migrants may have well-weighted plans and concrete destinations in their mind as they travel. It questions the linearity of so-called transit migration, as the in-between phase between departure and arrival. By following their aspirations and im/mobilities, we notice that African migrants truly 'live Europe', looking beyond state borders to improve their socio-economic position.

Keywords: onward mobility; African migration; EU integration; European Union; asylum; transit migration; borders; migrant experiences; trajectory ethnography; migrant waiting; migrants; immigrants; migrant aspirations; immobility.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2017.083247

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2017 Vol.3 No.2/3, pp.208 - 227

Received: 25 Sep 2015
Accepted: 23 Feb 2016

Published online: 15 Mar 2017 *

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