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Michigan State University (2020)

Belonging beyond Boundaries : Constructing a Transnational Community in a West African Borderland

Glovsky, David Newman.

Titre : Belonging beyond Boundaries : Constructing a Transnational Community in a West African Borderland

Auteur : Glovsky, David Newman.

Université de soutenance  : Michigan State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2020

Résumé
By treating colonial and postcolonial borders as suggestions rather than firm dividers, this dissertation argues that Fulbe people in West Africa built a cross-border community that questioned the relationship between citizenship, territory, and national belonging. In the borderlands of southern Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea (southern Senegambia), Fulbe created a semi-autonomous, transnational community outside of states. In the late nineteenth century, the French, British, and Portuguese colonial governments drew borders between the colonies of Senegal, the Gambia, and Portuguese and French Guinea to divide and separate the peoples of these countries. This work, based on oral histories and archival research in six countries, argues that colonial governments never successfully controlled these borders, and that precolonial territorial strategies and networks have continued to the present. Thus, this research calls for a rethinking of conceptions of territoriality and space in Africa by focusing on Fulbe concepts of space and territory rather than those of colonial and postcolonial states.

This study shows how Fulbe people made and remade spatial networks for a variety of reasons, adjusting their geographies in the face of state efforts to control and monitor movement. Throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods, Fulbe concepts of space and place superseded those of local governments, who exercised little control over borders, and thus, movement. This study shows how Fulbe people made and remade spatial networks for a variety of reasons, adjusting their geographies in the face of state efforts to control and monitor movement. From the late nineteenth century, Fulbe people regularly moved between Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea for a variety of social, religious, political, and economic reasons. As a result of this movement, Fulbe citizenship came into question on a national level in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau during the 1960s and 1970s, leading to massive levels of emigration to neighboring countries like Senegal and the Gambia.

Fulbe people often treated citizenship as fluid and flexible, laying claim to the rights of citizenship in multiple states. Through cross-border networks and ideas of belonging, they were able to mitigate some of the challenges of both the colonial and postcolonial periods. Their movement and refusal to categorize themselves along national lines subverts ideas that people belong to individual nation-states and offer a window for rethinking territorial belonging outside of the boundaries of modern states.

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Page publiée le 13 juin 2021