African migrants negotiate ‘home’ and ‘belonging’: Re-framing transnationalism through a diasporic landscape
In recent years the volume and dynamics of migration from Africa to Europe have come under increasing study. The resulting breadth of research is impressive and includes such topics as gender and migration, migration and development, refugees and transnationalism. However, this work still suffers from the limitations imposed by existing migration theories that privilege the host context over the sending context focusing on linear processes and bounded conceptual frameworks. Through field work with Ugandan migrants and their descendants in Britain, this paper challenges existing theoretical limitations by proposing an inter-disciplinary approach that draws on transnationalism, diaspora and cultural geographical perspectives on landscape. Through this lens the concept of diasporic landscape emerges as an innovative contribution to migration theory as it highlights the embeddedness of migrants’ lives, within processes of production and reproduction of a discursive terrain that straddles Uganda and Britain. It captures the multi-faceted physical and symbolic impacts of migrants’ lived realities and privileges the continued impact of the sending context, cultural and temporal dimensions. The contours that emerge through migrants’ everyday practices of ‘belonging’ highlight asymmetric power relations. These shift in complex patterns disrupting such bounded notions as migration, immobility, the migrant, non-migrant, refugee, citizen or undocumented person.