Julie Kleinman

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Fordham U.

Grant number

Gr. 10266

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Kleinman, Julie (Fordham U.) "Freedoms to Circulate: Reframing Political and Social Belonging through Migrant Activism in Mali"

This ethnographic research explores the socio-political projects of migrant rights activists in Mali. Often seen as a place of emigration, Mali has become a host country for migrants who have been expelled from elsewhere and settle in the place they hoped to transit through. At the same time, increasing deportations and precarious livelihoods have led Malian migrants abroad to return home. These communities have converged upon the capital of Bamako during a period of ongoing conflict, building associations for migrant rights. Mobilizing fieldwork among activists and foreign aid organizations, this project examines how experiences of deportation shape political contestation in the context of a ballooning international humanitarian apparatus and its embedded racial logics. To understand this process, the project develops a multipronged methodology, including participant observation in the everyday operations of activist groups and foreign NGOs, social network mapping of two key urban neighborhoods, life history collection, and archival research into the documentation produced by associations and foreign funders. In studying the socially grounded transformations spurred by migrant rights activists, this research creates a foundation for understanding how marginalized groups transform political and social belonging at a time marked by rising ethno-nationalism, increasing precarity for labor migrants, and forced displacement.