Je pensais qu'il était la vie en rose. The changeability of aspirations and trajectories of West-African migrants within Europe

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In these globalizing times of the 21st century, we can speak of a refugee crisis of historic proportions. An increasing number of migrants is coming from West-Africa to Europe searching for a better or safer life. European countries are having more and more problems with the huge flows of migrants, not to mention the death tolls on sea and the growing public fear. Stricter border controls do not seem to stop migration, but only make the consequences worse. This thesis focuses on the ongoing mobility of West-African migrants within Europe in order to gain insights to contest these problems. Building on previous migration research, this study focuses on how the aspirations and trajectories of West-African migrants changed in different times and places during their travels within Europe. Research findings are based on four months ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands and Italy from February till May 2016. It becomes clear that a combination of different factors, created by the possibility to imagine different lives in other places, often influenced by social networks, lead to the forming and reforming of aspirations. This thesis suggests to use an aspiration/ability model in combination with schemes regarding the positions and times of migration to see how changed aspirations influence mobility choices. This learns us that although aspirations to ‘make it’ in Europe are persistent, the ‘where’ and ‘when’ to fulfil these aspirations often change. However, when migrants (feel like they) do not have the ability to fulfil their aspirations, they stay in an involuntary immobility, compromise by having a transnational life or just wait for ‘something to happen’.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen