Nothing will keep me from taking the backway. Deconstructing aspirations and desires of male Gambian youth taking the path of irregular migration

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This study investigates young Gambians’ migrant aspirations during the political transition from an autocracy to a democracy in 2017. The study considers how migrant aspirations are negotiated through micro and macro socio-cultural environments, as well as through hope in the new government. While the new government and EU sponsored projects aim to limit migrant aspirations for irregular migration towards Europe with an economic ‘fix’, this study shows this is not likely to succeed, as migrant aspirations are far more complex, more embedded in Gambian society and formed by multiple factors that are not dealt with in the projects. The research is ethnographic and consists of collected data from youths who intend to-, have intended to- or have tried to irregularly migrate to Europe. Next to that, the study includes data on people in the social networks of irregular migrants. The data show how irregular migration is viewed in Gambian society in terms of success and failure. Moreover, this research gives attention to the way in which collective imaginaries about Europe and the images on The Gambia influence migrant aspirations. It will be illustrated how these images get reinforced by social networks, the visa policy and by personal life aspirations.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen