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Why aspiring migrants trust migration brokers: the moral economy of departure in Anglophone Cameroon


In the face of restrictive migration policies, migration brokers in emigration countries sell services that are meant to facilitate departure projects. Not all aspiring migrants who give money to migration brokers are able to travel. This article asks how aspiring migrants in Anglophone Cameroon understand and deal with the potential for deceit by migration brokers. The analysis is based on sixteen months of fieldwork conducted between 2007 and 2013, predominantly in the town of Buea. By studying the social effects of European migration management through the lens of norms and values in a place of departure, the article argues that migration brokers cannot be understood exclusively as actors who are instrumental for the realization of migration trajectories. In a context where European migration management frustrates aspirations for global citizenship, migration brokers are also dealers in hopes for global belonging. Relations of trust between brokers and aspiring migrants are articulated through local terms such as ‘dokimen’, ‘feymen’ and ‘big men’. The article's two case studies examine relations between migration brokers and aspiring migrants within a broad social framework that includes family dynamics, as well as with a temporal perspective that stretches beyond the initial moment of failed departure.


Face aux politiques de migration restrictives, des intermédiaires de la migration vendent des services destinés à faciliter les projets de départ dans les pays d’émigration. Les candidats au départ qui versent de l'argent à des intermédiaires de migration n'ont pas tous la possibilité de voyager. Cet article s'interroge sur la manière dont les candidats au départ au Cameroun anglophone comprennent et gèrent la possibilité d’être trompés par les intermédiaires de la migration. L'analyse s'appuie sur seize mois de travaux menés sur le terrain entre 2007 et 2013, principalement dans la ville de Buea. En étudiant les effets sociaux de la gestion de la migration européenne sous l'angle des normes et des valeurs dans un lieu de départ, l'article soutient qu'on ne peut pas comprendre les intermédiaires de la migration exclusivement en tant qu'acteurs dont le rôle est instrumental pour la réalisation de trajectoires de migration. Dans un contexte où la gestion de la migration européenne frustre les aspirations à une citoyenneté mondiale, les intermédiaires de la migration sont aussi des marchands d'espoir d'appartenance mondiale. Les relations de confiance entre les intermédiaires et les candidats au départ s'expriment à travers des termes locaux tels que « dokimen », « feymen » et « big men ». Les deux études de cas de l'article examinent les relations entre les intermédiaires de la migration et des candidats au départ dans un large cadre social qui inclut la dynamique familiale, ainsi que sous une perspective temporelle qui va au-delà du moment initial de l’échec du départ.

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