Identity, migration and diaspora from the perspectives of French speaking West Africans in Bergen and Oslo – their thoughts and their stories.
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Identity, migration and diaspora from the perspectives of French speaking West Africans in Bergen and Oslo - their thoughts and their stories. The research for this thesis has been conducted among the French-speaking West African immigrant communities in Oslo and Bergen, the two largest cities of Norway. The African countries of origin chosen are Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Niger. In-depth interviews were done with 17 men and women. The topics discussed were their perceptions of their identity, and what the important deciding factors were for who they perceive themselves to be. The theories applied for the analysis of identity are mainly the theories of Fredrik Barth on ethnic groups and boundaries, Richard Jenkins on social identity, and Rogers Brubaker on ethnicity without groups. The migration studied in this thesis is not a group migration as such, but of a much more individual nature and consists rather of single cases. Therefore we do not find diasporic groups as perhaps expected, and the analysis is shaped accordingly. The theories used for the analysis of migration and diaspora are the works of Øyvind Fuglerud and Floya Anthias for a theoretical debate on migration and the analysis of this type of migration in particular. Janet MacGaffey and Rémy Bazenguisa-Ganga's work on Congolese tradesmen is used for contextualisation through comparison. Finally, a broader picture is painted through the context of the homeland. Each country of origin's recent history is briefly presented, along with the regional social and cultural traits shared by the countries in question. This shows the need for an understanding of these people not as a group but as a category, as they are very heterogeneous, with varied reasons for coming to Norway and also varied backgrounds from Africa. The finer points and variations of the picture are what the analysis will bring out throughout the thesis, with the final result being a detailed analysis and a clear picture of this category of immigrants in Norway.