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The European continent has been so inundated by images of African migrants trying to enter ‘fortress Europe’ that many Europeans now uncritically assume that the majority of Africans wants to emigrate. But how do Africans themselves imagine such migratory process? Based on ongoing fieldwork in Tanzania, this paper critically explores the currently dominant imaginaries of migratory movements in function of the desire to belong to a broader imagined cosmopolis (often the one depicted in entertainment media). Not only is Tanzania a marginal player in the global field of migration, contemporary images and ideas about emigration in this East African country appear to stand in sharp contrast with common European views on African (im)mobilities. Using an ethnographic approach, I illustrate how migration, in the broadest sense, is much more than mere movement between places; it is embedded in deeply engrained but dynamic processes of cultural meaning-making.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date




Total pages



Migration imaginaries, anthropology, ethnography, the West, media, Tanzania