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Unsettling connections: transnational networks, development and African home associations

Mercer, Claire, Page, Ben and Evans, Martin (2009) Unsettling connections: transnational networks, development and African home associations. Global Networks, 9 (2). pp. 141-161. ISSN 1470-2266

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Abstract

With the transnational turn in the social sciences attention has now turned to ‘global civil society’, ‘transnational civil society’, ‘transnational networks’ and, most recently, ‘migrant’ or ‘diasporic civil society’. Claims are being made about the developmental potential of these new configurations of civil society, and the global connections forged by migrant and diaspora associational life have been reified into things called ‘networks’ for the purpose of enrolling them into development policy. In this article, we challenge the network model through an analysis of transnational Cameroonian and Tanzanian home associations. The idea of a network suggests an overly robust and ordered set of linkages for what are in effect often loose and transient connections. African home associations draw attention to the historically-embedded and mundane ways in which forms of associational life can be ‘transnational’ outside the formalized structures and Eurocentric development hierarchies created by international NGOs and other development institutions. Although they form largely invisible connections operating outside these hierarchies, African home associations unsettle assumptions about the geography of civil society and its relationship with development. Close attention to the histories and geographies of African home associations reveals that power and agency more often lie with migrants and elites within Africa than with the transnational diaspora.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/glob_enhanced/
Additional Information: © 2009 The Authors
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 05 May 2009 11:00
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/23889/

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