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The Changing Cultures of Return Migration in South-West Burkina Faso - Insights from Dano. Master thesis 2015


Migration presents a common livelihood strategy in the South-West region of Burkina Faso. Cross-border return migration is deeply embedded in the society. This study generates new knowledge about the shared ‘cultures of migration’. It was conducted in Dano, a small market town located in the Ioba province. The local livelihoods are mainly based on rain-fed agriculture. These are exposed to various vulnerabilities such as increasing rainfall variability and land scarcity. Additionally, missing employment opportunities and the low availability of credits to invest in own business ideas limit the choice of livelihood strategies. Although these factors impact the decisions to migrate, the persistent migration flows cannot solely be explained by the current conditions.

This is why a theoretical along with a methodical triangulation was conducted. The concept of ‘cultures of migration’ combined with Bourdieu’s ‘theory of practice’ and livelihoods re-search was applied to enrich the understanding of the continuity of these movements. Thus, this study takes a look at the ‘discursive space’ of return migration. By focusing on qualitative methods and including the perceptions and valuations of people who were left behind a differentiating picture of the impacting factors on the migration patterns can be drawn. Additionally, the historical background has been embedded into the analysis. Consolidated dur-ing colonial times return migration towards the neighbour countries Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are part of one of the largest migration systems on the continent nowadays.

Despite the climate induced seasonal division and less income opportunities during the dry season, most migration flows do not amount to seasonal periods only but for two to three years. Migration is mainly performed by young men who commonly work on plantations abroad. The number of women, however, is increasing. The study shows that many mi-grants link their journeys to certain individual goals. Common target objects include clothing, bicycles and motorbikes as well as the construction of houses. The study argues that role models, set by former migrants, play a crucial role in the maintenance of the migration flows. Through their behaviour and position within the society they perpetual inspire young people in taking the decision to migrate. Moreover, former migrants can provide important knowledge and social networks for the success of future migrants. Despite economic motivations also social conflict and curiosity lead people to take the decision to migrate. However, for the implementation of this social practice other things such as a certain degree of economic and social capital are necessary. Moreover, family presents a considerable factor influencing the decision-making. During their time abroad, most migrants maintain strong links with their place of origin and especially their relatives, which enables them to return, even in cases of failed targets.

Overall, the study concludes that a positive discourse about male migrants and the acknowledgement which they receive after their return influenced the persistence of the migration patterns. However, also certain changes could be detected. After the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire 2002/2003 the perception as well as the migrant’s behaviour changed significantly. Through the perceived higher risks abroad people expect the migrants to in-vest more at their place of origin. The migrants tend to invest especially in buildings, which also symbolize their willingness to return. The engagement in artisan gold mining and dry season agriculture could be identified as new emerging livelihood strategies, which ‘compete’ with the long developed return migration patterns. Even though the cultures of migration change over time, they also sustain several changes and impacts, therefore also future migrations patterns will be influenced by them.

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Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((-9.18456 13.58191, -9.18456 4.03961, 1.36232 4.03961, 1.36232 13.58191))
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015 (All day)
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Tabitha Triphaus
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Tabitha Triphaus
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Citation: Triphaus, T. (2015): The Changing Cultures of Return Migration in South-West Burkina Faso - Insights from Dano.
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