Belonging nowhere or everywhere? Somalian return migrants in East Africa

This project focuses on the question how experiences of migration shape the decisions to stay or to re-migrate and what specific possibilities and logics these patterns of exclusion and inclusion enable and disable. Concentrating on Somalian return migrants in Kenya the project will examine how new forms of solidarity and identification can emerge in the migration process. At the same time it will refine contemporary categorizations, such as the meaning of 'arrival' and 'return'.

When the Somalian exodus started at the beginning of the 1990s, most refugees fled to the neighbouring countries including Kenya. Later on many Somalians (i.e. people from Somalia) moved to Europe or North America, but also to Arab countries. There is, however, a growing group of Somalian migrants, who, after having lived in Europe, North America or Arab countries for a number of years, are now 'returning' to East Africa. That means in many cases, however, that they settle in Kenya, as Somalia is still regarded as too dangerous and Somaliland is often seen as economically not promising enough. In Kenya they find a strong Somali community, made up from ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens, as well as refugees from Somalia who live in Kenya.

Some of these Somalian migrants in Kenya are clearly visible – these 'successful' returnees are often parents with children or young adults. The latter mostly grew up outside of East Africa and have often no remembrance of Somalia. There are, however, also those Somalians who were forced to move back to the East African region - these 'deportees' were in many cases either legally or socio-economically excluded. These patterns of exclusion and inclusion not only have to be explored with a geographical focus on different local frameworks, but also with a focus on age and generation, gender, status and class (and linked with the latter education and occupation). These factors also play a role in how exclusion and inclusion is experienced and perceived.



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