Open Seminar “Urban life-worlds of Cameroonians in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)”

Date / Time 13 July 2011 (Wed.) 19:00-21:00
Venue Room 304, ILCAA
Language English
Organized by Core Project “Pluralistic World Understanding based on African Studies”
Jointly sponsored by Core Project “Human Mobility and Formation of Plural Societies in the Middle East and the Muslim World”, Japan Association for African Studies
Contact aaafrica[at]aa.tufs.ac.jp *Please change [at] to @.
Admission:Free, No registration is required.
Dr. Michaela Pelican (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich / ASAFAS, Kyoto University)
Urban life-worlds of Cameroonians in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
Summary of the Lecture
This contribution deals with the life-worlds and social spaces of Cameroonian migrants in Dubai, a major metropolis linking African and Asian markets.
In recent years, Dubai has attracted large numbers of African traders and labour migrants who contribute significantly to the town’s commercial development and social life. The streets of Deira, Dubai’s ancient trading district, are populated by African merchants from all over the continent, exploring shops and markets, bargaining prices, arranging their acquisitions in hotel launches, taking a break in a street cafe, enjoying a meal in an Indian or African restaurant, or hanging out in an Ethiopian or Congolese night club.
Many Cameroonians who reside permanently in Dubai act as intermediaries and conduits to these merchants, facilitating their accommodation, purchases and transport of acquisitions back to Africa. They tend to organize their lives around economic constraints and the caprice of immigration regulations. At the same time, they struggle to create social spaces of mutual comfort and support, for example in the context of shared housing, church congregations, or aid and saving groups. However, reproducing social networks similar to those in Cameroon poses difficulties, as migrants’ realities differ considerably from life-worlds back home.

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