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“The West of Their Imagination”: Transnational Impression Management and Canadian Migration in the Nigerian Youth Imaginary


This article examines the perceptions of Canada by Nigerian youths who have a desire to immigrate to Canada. It explicates why Canada remains an attraction to prospective immigrants in spite of documented accounts of racial discrimination against racial minorities in Canadian society. Based on semistructured and focus group interviews with thirty-five Nigerian youths, the study demonstrates that Nigerian youths chose Canada because the Canadian postsecondary education system can provide them with foreign credentials that will give them access to economic power and social prestige in an unfair and unequal Nigerian society. The youths are also impressed by the transnational lives of their peers and social groups residing in the West. Although the youths criticize the dysfunctions of key institutions of Nigerian society, especially the education institution, they do not deplore social inequality per se.


Cet article examine les perceptions du Canada par les jeunes nigérians qui souhaitent immigrer au Canada. Il explore les raisons pour lesquelles le Canada demeure un attrait pour les immigrants potentiels malgré les témoignages documentés sur la discrimination raciale à l’égard des minorités ethniques dans la société canadienne. Basé sur des entretiens semi structurés et sur des groupes de discussion avec trente-cinq jeunes nigérians, l’étude démontre que les jeunes nigérians choisissent le Canada parce que le système d’éducation postsecondaire canadien peut leur fournir des titres de compétences étrangers qui leur donneront accès au pouvoir économique et au prestige social dans une société nigériane injuste et inégale. Les jeunes sont également impressionnés par la vie transnationale de leurs pairs et groupes sociaux résidant en Occident. Bien que les jeunes critiquent les dysfonctionnements des institutions clés de la société nigériane, notamment la corruption dans l’établissement de l’enseignement, ils ne déplorent cependant pas l’inégalité sociale en tant que telle.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
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