“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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