CRS Seminar: Rethinking Power and Reciprocity in the ‘Field’
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Guest speaker: Kudakwashe Vanyoro, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, African Centre for Migration & Society
Calls for decolonization are on the rise everywhere, including in migration studies. Criticisms of ‘fieldwork’ with migrants are part of an ongoing and broader discussion focused on migration studies’ extractive character. This paper is interested in revealing how the distinction(s) implied by the term ‘fieldwork’ quite easily gives rise to false and misleading dichotomies that are not so useful to decolonial migration praxis. It argues that these dichotomies negate an intermediate space between the two extremes of ‘home’ and the ‘field’; one in which social relationships, kinship ties and social value define the possible extent of the risk of migration research to further marginalise or protect migrants and refugees. These opposing possibilities arise from the interaction of these social attributes to the extent that they shape a different and localised kind of definition of responsibility, lending, in turn, a novel meaning to the ideas, meanings and forms of power and reciprocity in migration studies done in African contexts.
Kudakwashe Vanyoro is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa interested in migration, temporality, borders, humanitarianism and governance in Africa. He is the author of “Migration, Crisis and Temporality at the Zimbabwe-South Africa Border: Governing Immobilities (Bristol University Press, 2023). Some of his work has won the Mixed Migration Centre Alternative Voices Competition Prize for writers under 30 and the IASFM 2022 Lisa Gilad Prize.