Barça ou Barzakh: The Social “Elsewhere” of Failed Clandestine Migration Out of Senegal


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Between 2006 and 2008, tens of thousands of predominantly male “boat migrants” departed from Senegalese shores for the Canary Islands in small wooden fishing pirogues. An untold number never made it, either perishing at sea, or becoming marooned off the coast of Maghreb states; of those who did, forced repatriation back to Senegal was common. While the Senegalese state has developed novel forms of governmentality to manage returned migrants, the experience of failed migration continues to pose psychological and material challenges for thousands of young people. This dissertation explores how local institutions and cultural contexts influence migratory practices, and how failed migration can become a kind of social barzakh, or “elsewhere,” from which young West African men must strategize their futures. Failure, in this sense, is reframed not as a space of negation, but as a terrain of potential.