CNRS Ministère des Affaires Etrangères


Accueil > Research at CFEE > Axes and research programs > Theme 3. Social and political transformations in the contemporary Horn of Africa

Migrations in/from the Horn of Africa

David Ambrosetti (CFEE),
Boris Adjemian (IMAF),
Fesseha Berhe (Mekelle University),
Samson Abebe Bezabeh (Makarere University, Uganda),
Julia Blocher (Université de Liège, Sciences Po Paris),
Giulia Bonacci (IRD, URMIS, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis),
Alice Franck (CEDEJ Khartoum),
Benoît Gaudin (Addis Ababa University - IRD),
Katarzyna Grabska (IHEID Geneva, CEDEJ Khartoum),
Dominique Harre (CFEE),
Margaux Herman (CFEE),
Simon Imbert-Vier (IMAF),
Omar Ismael (Centre d’étude et de recherche de Djibouti),
Clara Lecadet (EHESS),
Thomas Osmond (Addis Ababa University / CFEE),
Géraldine Pinauldt (Université Paris 8 / CFEE),
Sebabatso Manoeli (Oxford University),
Tesfaye Tafesse (Addis Ababa University),
Hélène Thiollet (CNRS, Sciences Po Paris).

The death of hundreds of Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, and Djiboutian migrants near the coast of Southern Europe has drawn the attention of politicians to areas that were considered marginal in terms of Europeans migratory routes (or even external to them). The modalities of mobility within the Horn of Africa are numerous and old. They are part of the sociopolitical and economic dynamics that shape this area. This is particularly true when it comes to the relationship between pastoralism and internal migrations due to inequalities in terms of economic development, urbanisation, and changes in ways of life and social relations, in a highly instable political, economic, and environmental context. The local dimensions of internal mobility (either ‘voluntary’ or ‘forced’) thus need to be considered together with cross-border dynamics, since they are part of them. The observation ofmigrants’ flows, refugees and displaced persons at the Somali-Kenyan, Eritrean-Ethiopian, Sudanese-Ugandan, Chadic-Sudanese, or Egyptian-Sudanese borders, as well as across the Red Sea, has shown that the trajectories of migrants and refugees are often made of successions of steps and itineraries, going back and force, and commuting. Seasonal migrations and population displacements due to outbreaks of violence, conflicts or droughts, become part of regional migrations towards areas or countries considered safer or more adapted to amigration project (for life or survival).

The new research program of the CFEE on this topic deals with
- Intra-regional migrations, essentially due to conflicts, but also to economic and environmental disasters ;
-  Migrations to the Gulf countries that produce oil via Yemen ;
-  Migrations to countries of the OECD, including Israel, viaEgypt and Libya,and then the Mediterranean Sea.
Our approach includes :
- The modes of access to exile according to mobility scales and depending on the subgroup considered (gender differences in particular, but other subgroups as well) ;
- International public policies whose aim is either to limit or guide these population movements ;
- The diversity in terms of ‘status’ ascribed to these flows, which is due to the multiplicity of underlying reasons for departures or arrivals, and results in the fact that refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers, ‘economic’ migrants, and ‘irregular’ migrants are considered together based on the characteristics of the departure points ;
-  The way in which migration processes affects and changes groups of migrants in terms of identity and socio-economic status.
- The History of migrations out of/to Ethiopia is also important for the understanding of these dynamics ; though contemporary issues related to migrations constitute our primary focus.

This program is part of a wider sub-regional research plan. The CFEE, the branch of the Centre for Social, Legal and Economic Studies and Documentation (CEDEJ) in Khartoum (Alice Franck and Katarzyna Grabska), andHélène Thiollet in Sciences Po Paris,are working together to develop a network of inter-French Research Institutes Abroad (IFRE) research concerning migrations from/in the Horn of Africa. This project emerged with the organisation of a conference on this topic from the 16th to the 18th of November in Khartoum. This conference was supported by the Fonds d’Alembert of the French Institute, the Embassies of France in Ethiopian and Sudan, de French Institutes in Djibouti and Sudan, Sciences Po, the Institut de recherche pour le développement(IRD), the Institut des Hautes études internationales et de développement in Geneva (IHEID), the American University in Cairo, the Centre for Human Rights of Pretoria University, and Mokoro Ltd.

Several publications will appear as a result of this conference as well as other scientific events organised on this topic.
Margaux Herman, the person in charge of the CFEE’s research program on women and gender in the Horn of Africa, is also involved in the program on migrations in order to encourage scientific exchanges between the specialists of two different topics. International (South-North), regional (South-South), and national (rural-urban) migrations affect women at different levels and modify relationships between men and women, may it be in ‘new’ area, in their original society, or in the course of their journey. The reasons that push them to migrate are diverse as well, as they can be linked to economic, social and familial, or political factors.

Follow the news of this research program on the blog of the CFEE :

Adjemian, Boris. 2015. « Foyers de l’émigration et mémoires du temps de l’immigration arménienne en Éthiopie au vingtième siècle ». In V. Baby-Collin, S. Mazzella, S. Mourlane, P. Sintès, C. Regnard (dir.), Migrations et temporalités en Méditerranée, XIXe-XXIe siècle, MMSH / Actes Sud, (forthcoming).
— 2015 « Immigrants and Kings : Foreignness in Ethiopia, through the Eye of Armenian Diaspora », African Diaspora 8, p. 1-19.
— 2014 « Évaluer la part de l’héritage dans les mémoires de passés douloureux », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos, online since the 29th of September 2014. Link
— 2014 « De l’expérience migratoire à l’écriture d’un Grand Récit : le mythe de l’adoption dans la mémoire des immigrations arméniennes en Éthiopie », L’Homme. Revue française d’anthropologie, n° 211, July-September 2014, p. 97-116.
— 2013. La fanfare du négus. Les Arméniens en Éthiopie (XIXe-XXe siècles), Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, collection « En temps & lieux », 352 p.
— 2013 « Ras Täfäri dans la mémoire de l’immigration arménienne en Éthiopie », Annales d’Éthiopie, no 28, p. 133-155.
— 2013 « Du récit de soi à l’écriture d’un Grand Récit : une autobiographie collective arménienne en Éthiopie », Diasporas. Histoire et sociétés, no 22, p. 139-153.
— 2013 « La fanfare arménienne du négus. Représentations des étrangers, usages du passé et politique étrangère des rois d’Éthiopie au début du XXe siècle », Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, n° 119, p. 85-97.
— 2012 « L’invention d’un homeland arménien en Éthiopie : exil et sédentarité dans l’écriture d’une mémoire d’hôtes en diaspora », Tracés. Revue de sciences humaines, n° 23 (2012), p. 41-61.
— 2012 « Les Arméniens en Éthiopie, une entorse à la “raison diasporique” ? Réflexion sur les concepts de diaspora marchande et de minorité intermédiaire », Revue européenne des migrations internationales, vol. 28 (3), p. 107-126.
— 2011 « Une visite au cimetière arménien d’Addis Abeba. Éléments pour la connaissance d’une diaspora et de ses pratiques funéraires en Éthiopie », Afriques, 03 / 2011, see online

Bezabeh, Samson A. 2015. (Forthcoming in Fall) Subjects of Empires/Citizens of State : Yemenis in the Port of Djibouti and its Hinterland. Cairo/ New York : The American University in Cairo Press.
— 2015. “Living Across Digital Landscapes : Muslims, Orthodox and Indian Guru in Urban Ethiopia”. In Rosalind Hackett and Benjamin Soares (eds) New Media and Religion in Africa. Indiana University Press.
— 2012. “Mythical Roots, Fantasmic Realities and Transnational Migrants : Yemenis Across the Gulf of Aden”. Cyber Orient, Vol. 6, Issue 2.
— 2011. Citizenship and the Logic of Sovereignty in Djibouti. African Affairs, 110/441, 587-606.
— 2011. “Yemeni Families in the Early History of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ca. 1900-1950 : A Revisionist Approach in Diasporic Historiography”. Cahiers d’Études Africaines, LI (4) No.204, pp. 893-919.
— 2010. Muslim Hadramis in “Christian Ethiopia”. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 30, No.3, pp. 333-343.

Blocher, Julia. 2015. “Climate Change and Environment Related Migration in the European Union Policy : An Organizational Shift towards Adaptation and Development.” In Rosenow, Kerstin and François Gemenne (eds) Organizational Perspectives on Environmental Migration. London : Springer (Forthcoming).

Blocher, Julia, Garbaoui, Dalila, and Vigil, Sara. 2015. “West Africa’s Role in Pioneering Protection Mechanisms for Cross-border Disaster Displacement”, Forced Migration Review (forthcoming).

Bonacci, Giulia. 2015. Special Issue Guest Editor, Introduction, « In and Out of Ethiopia. Migrations, Diasporas and Contemporary Ethiopia », African Diaspora (8) : 1-13.
— 2015. « Mapping the Boundaries of Otherness. Naming Caribbean Settlers in Ethiopia », African Diaspora (8) : 34-50.

Gemenne, François, and Blocher, Julia, 2015. “How can migration support adaptation ? Different options to test the migration-adaptation nexus”, The Geographic Journal (forthcoming).

Gemenne, François and Julia Blocher. 2015. "Discourses, perceptions and misconceptions of environmental migration scenarios in Europe.” In Carmen Meinert and Claus Leggewie (eds.). Nature, the Environment and Culture in Europe. Leiden : Brill (Forthcoming). Lin.

Grabska, Katarzyna, and Horst, Cindy. 2015. “Flight and Exile : Uncertainty in the context of conflict-induced displacement”, Social Analysis, vol. 59(1).

Grabska, Katarzyna. 2015. “Threatening mini skirts” ? : returnee South Sudanese adolescent girls and social change’, in Lisa Akensson and Maria Eriksson Baaz (eds), Africa’s New Developers ?, Zed Books.

Grabska, Katarzyna, and Fanjoy, Martha. 2015. “‘And when I become a man’ : trans-local coping with precariousness and uncertainty among returnee men in South Sudan", Social Analysis, vol.59(1).

Grabska, Katarzyna, 2014. Gender, identity home : Nuer repatriation to South Sudan, James Currey : Oxford.
— 2013. “The Return of Displaced Nuer in Southern Sudan : Women Becoming Men ?”, Development and Change, vol. 44, no.5, p. 1135-1157.
— 2012. “Marrying on credit : the burden of bridewealth in the context of post-war return of southern Sudanese refugee youth”, Forced Migration Review, Issue 40, August.
— 2011. “Constructing ‘modern gendered civilised’ women and men : gender mainstreaming in refugee camps”, Gender and Development, 19(1), p. 81-93.
— 2010. “Lost Boys, Invisible Girls : Stories of Marriage Across the Borders”, Gender, Place and Culture, vol.17(4).

Grabska, Katarzyna, and Al-Sharmani, Mulki, 2009. “Diasporic African Refugees : Ambivalent Status and Cosmopolitan Struggles in Cairo”, in Singerman D. and Amar P. (eds) Re-making Cairo : Politics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East, Volume II, AUC Press.

Grabska, Katarzyna, and Mehta, Lyla (eds), 2008. Forced Displacement : Why Rights Matter ?, Palgrave MacMillan : London.

Grabska, Katarzyna, 2006. “Marginalization in the Urban Spaces of the Global South : Urban Refugees in Cairo” Special Issue : Urban Refugees, Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 19, n° 3.

Imbert-Vier, Simon, “Migrazione e costruzione di una identità gibutina (1947-1981)”,in Isabella Rosoni, Uoldelul Chelati Dirar (ed.), Votare con i piedi. La mobilità degli individui nell’Africa coloniale italiana, edizioni università di Macerata, 2012, p. 313-322 ; published in French : “Migrations et construction de la ‘djiboutienneté’ (1947-1981)”, Études de l’IRSEM, n° 24, 2013, p. 34-42

Lecadet, Clara, 2016, Le manifeste des expulsés. Errance, survie et politique au Mali, Ateliers Henry Dougier, forthcoming.
— 2015, “Europe confronted by its expelled migrants”, in De Genova N. (ed.), The Borders of “Europe” : Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering, Duke University Press, forthcoming.
— 2015, “Refugee politics : self-organized “government” and protests in the Agame refugee camp (2005-2013)”, Journal of Refugee Studies, forthcoming.
— 2014, « Ghettos, deportation without a voice », in Anderson, B., Keith, M. (ed.) Migration : The Compas Anthology, p. 157-159, Oxford, COMPAS.
— 2013, “From migrant destitution to self-organization into transitory national communities : the revival of citizenship in post-deportation experience in Northern Mali” in Anderson, B., Gibney, M. and Paoletti, E. (dir.), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation, New York, Springer, p. 143-158.
— 2012, « Expulsions et prises de parole au Mali : quand le politique se récrie en ses marges », Le sujet dans la cité, Actuels n° 1, p. 113-127.
— 2010, « ’Itinéraires de la faim’ des migrants subsahariens expulsés d’Algérie au Mali », Anthropology of Food, n° 7.

Lecadet, Clara, et Agier, Michel, 2014, Un monde de camps, Paris, La Découverte.

Thiollet, Hélène. 2015 (forthcoming). Migrations en Méditerranée. Permanences et mutations à l’heure des revolutions et des crises, with Camille Schmoll and Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, CNRS éditions.
— 2015. “Les migrations en Arabie saoudite” and “Le Yémen, entre asile et migrations”, in Gildas Simon, Thomas Lacroix (eds.), Dictionnaire géo-historique des migrations internationales dans le monde, Paris, Armand Colin.
— 2015. “The Regional Politics of Labor Import in the Gulf Monarchies”, in Marion Manizzon, Gottfried Zurcher and Elisa Fornale (eds.), Handbook of Law and Policy of International Labour Migration, Basingstoke : Palgrave.
— 2014. “From Migration Hub to Asylum Crisis : The Changing Dynamics of Contemporary Migration in Yemen”, Why Yemen Matters. A Society in Transition, Saqi Books, p.265-285.
— 2013. “Migrations, exils et printemps arabes”, Afrique du Nord Moyen Orient. Mondes émergents, Paris : La Documentation Française.
— 2012. “Pratiques et représentations de l’émergence” [Practices and representations of emergence], Critique internationale 3/2012, n° 56, p. 9-16.
— 2011. “Migration as Diplomacy : Labour Migrants, Refugees and Arab regional politics in the oil rich countries”, International Labor and Working Class History (79) : p. 103-121.
— 2010. “Nationalisme ordinaire et nationalisme d’Etat en Arabie Saoudite : la Nation saoudienne et ses immigrés” [State Nationalism vs Banal Nationalism in Saudi Arabia],Raisons politiques, n°37, February, p. 89-102.
— 2009. “Mobilité dans la Corne de l’Afrique” [Mobility in the Horn of Africa : humanitarian emergency and security constraint], Migrations Société, vol. 21 n° 121, January, p. 75-88.