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Is Europe really the dream? Contingent paths among sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco


This article explores migrant existences in the border zones around Europe. Drawing on ethnographic research in Morocco undertaken in 2012, 2013 and 2015 and in continued engagements with migrants using social media, the article analyses three extended migrant stories, detailing their experiences of uncertainty, waiting and hoping. By elucidating the objectives informing migrants’ pathways and the material and moral considerations underpinning the ways in which they navigate migrant life in Rabat, the stories unveil how different temporalities and spatialities intersect and influence their decisions and ability to endure hardship and waiting. The article argues that uncertainties and risks inherent in migration, and in irregular migration in particular, have transformed collective expectations of the migratory project as a means of upward social mobility and economic security into hope and into a mode of hoping that individualizes success and failure. Meanwhile, the rising costs of migration and structural marginalization render the opportunity to travel elsewhere contingent on assistance from transnational social networks or international institutions. Individuals’ success or failure thus comes to depend on how understandings of hardship, waiting, opportunity and moral obligation are configured and reconfigured by lived experiences in different places.


Cet article explore des vies de migrants dans les zones frontalières de l'Europe. S'appuyant sur des recherches ethnographiques menées au Maroc en 2012, 2013 et 2015, et à travers le maintien de contacts avec des migrants par le biais de médias sociaux, l'article analyse trois récits développés de migrants détaillant leurs expériences d'incertitude, d'attente et d'espoir. En élucidant les objectifs qui informent le parcours des migrants et les considérations matérielles et morales qui sous-tendent leur mode de vie de migrant à Rabat, ces récits dévoilent comment différentes temporalités et spatialités se croisent et influencent leurs décisions et leur capacité à endurer la difficulté du quotidien et l'attente. L'article soutient que les incertitudes et les risques inhérents à la migration en général, et la migration irrégulière en particulier, ont transformé des attentes collectives du projet migratoire, en tant que moyen d'ascension sociale et de sécurité économique, en espoir et en mode d'espérance qui individualise la réussite et l’échec. Dans le même temps, le coût croissant de la migration et la marginalisation structurelle subordonnent la possibilité de se rendre ailleurs au soutien de réseaux sociaux transnationaux ou d'institutions internationales. La réussite ou l’échec individuel en vient donc à dépendre de la manière dont les interprétations de la difficulté du quotidien, de l'attente, de l'opportunité et de l'obligation morale sont configurées et reconfigurées par des expériences de vie dans des lieux différents.

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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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