“The adventure is not easy.” The Discretionary Politics of Social Suffering and Agency in Post-Deportation Narratives in Southern Mali


Drawing on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork in the West African state of Mali (2014–2016), this article delves into the local, national, and transnational effects of (externalized) European and North African deportation regimes and reactions to them by civil society actors and deportees themselves. This work aims to contribute to a better understanding of how geographical, physical, social, and psychological spaces are reshaped through interactions with bordering practices. Deportation generally takes the form of (il)legal, bureaucratic measures and violent interventions that are perceived as deeply unjust. They generate anger, alienation, and uncertainty among those deported and their families and associates. By seeking patterns in the accounts of social suffering in deportees’ narratives, the article seeks, empirically and analytically, to unravel multilevel bordering practices through examining localized, agentic forms of bordering power. The post-deportation context involves southern Mali, an area subject to dramatic desertification and loss of sustainable livelihoods.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2021-09-01
Pages:101 to 114
Section:Special Issue: Transforming Borders and the Discretionary Politics of Migration
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How to Cite
Schultz, S. U. (2021) “‘The adventure is not easy.’ The Discretionary Politics of Social Suffering and Agency in Post-Deportation Narratives in Southern Mali”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(3), pp. 101-114. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2044.

Author Biography

Bielefeld University

Dr. Susanne U. Schultz is as a Project Manager at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank, in “Making fair migration a reality,” where she focuses on aspects of legal migration, global skills partnerships and migration cooperation with a particular view on (West) African countries. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Bielefeld University on (forced) return migration and West Africa. Against the background of EU externalization of migratory policies into sub-Saharan Africa, it centers on post-deportation lives in Mali. She has published on deportation, masculinities, EU externalization, West African migration, training, and youth. From 2009 to 2013, she worked with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Switzerland, Turkey, and Germany.