Connecting with home, keeping touch : physical and virtual mobility across stretched families in sub-Saharan Africa

Porter, Gina; Hampshire, Kate; Abane, Albert; Munthali, Alister C.; Robson, Elsbeth; Tanle, Augustine; Owusu, Samuel Asiedu; De Lannoy, Ariane; Bango, Andisiwe

Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences; Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
Mobility; Migration; Mobile phones; Ghana; Malawi; South Africa
2018

Journal article


Rights
©2017 University of Hull
Abstract

There is a long history of migration among low-income families in sub-Saharan Africa, in which (usually young, often male) members leave home to seek their fortune in what are perceived to be more favourable locations. While the physical and virtual mobility practices of such stretched families are often complex and contingent, maintaining contact with distantly-located close kin is frequently of crucial importance for the maintenance of emotional (and possibly material) well-being, both for those who have left home and those who remain. This article explores the ways these connections are being reshaped by increasing access to mobile phones in three sub-Saharan countries, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa, drawing on interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research from 24 sites, ranging from poor urban neighbourhoods to remote rural hamlets. Stories collected from both ends of stretched families present a world where the connectivities now offered by the mobile phone bring a different kind of closeness and knowing, as instant sociality introduces a potential substitute for letters, cassettes and face-to-face visits, while the rapid resource mobilization opportunities identified by those still at home impose increasing pressures on migrant kin.

Publisher
The University of Hull
Peer reviewed
Yes
Language
English
Extent
183 KB
Identifier
hull:15253

Journal

Journal title
Africa
Publication date
2018
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
DOI
10.1017/S0001972017000973
ISSN (Print)
0001-9720
ISSN (Electronic)
1750-0184
Volume
88
Issue
2
Start page
404
End page
424
Notes

This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article which has been accepted for future publication in: Africa.

Link
Published article
QR Code