Before disembarkation: Eritrean and Nigerian migrants journeys within Africa

Katie Kuschminder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper examines the experiences of Nigerian and Eritrean migrants on their journeys from their origin country to prior to disembarkation across the Mediterranean Sea in Libya. This paper builds on the work of Vigh (2006. “Social Death and Violent Life Chances.” In Navigation Youth, Generating Adulthood: Social Becoming in and African Context, edited by Catrine Christiansen, Mats Utas, and Henrik Vigh. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet; 2009. “Motion Squared: A Second Look at the Concept of Social Navigation.” Anthropological Theory 9 (4): 419–438) in the social navigation approach by applying it to migration journeys and illustrating how migrants display their agency within their navigation, while simultaneously reflecting on the oppression and constrained choices that they experience in their journeys. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork with 69 respondents in Italy in 2017, this paper examines how Eritrean and Nigerian migrants experience their journeys and navigate through complex environments. The results illustrate the differences in expectations, experiences, and transnational connections of the two cases. This article contributes to the literature on migrant’s agency and social navigation of their journeys.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2020


  • Migration journeys
  • social navigation
  • Eritrea
  • Nigeria
  • Libya

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