Theory and the Study of Migration in Africa
Oliver Bakewell, Gunvor Jónsson
This special issue presents a series of articles that examine different aspects of migration, drawing on evidence from the African continent. Their aim is not simply to provide new empirical material but also to offer fresh theoretical insights that can unsettle, challenge and refine existing theories that frame the emerging field of migration studies. By bringing together this collection of papers from Africa, our intention is to help redress the balance of research on migration that is heavily skewed towards the interests and preoccupations of the wealthier regions of the world. In particular, we argue that the basic concepts of migration and the hypotheses concerning linkages between these concepts have been largely developed on the basis of research and experience beyond Africa. As a result, in very general terms, the continent tends to be a consumer of theory, which is produced from the production-line of analysis of migration from Mexico to the USA, across the Mediterranean, to the Gulf, and so on. In Africa, migration theory has tended to be delivered as a package to be empirically tested and proven in the ‘field’. But when it fails, it is taken back to the Western laboratory for further refinement before being shipped out again for another test run.