How religion helped African migrants during a risky Atlantic crossing [article]

Synopsis

In April 2018, a catamaran captained by two Brazilian smugglers left São Vicente, Cape Verde, setting its course across the Atlantic Ocean, towards the coast of Brazil. Twenty-five West African men were on board. They were all leaving their home countries, going on this risky journey to take their chances for a better life on a new continent.

This article explores the use of religious coping as a way to deal with stress, anxiety and fear, especially during extreme, high-risk migration journeys. This write-up is based on empirical research published in Mental Health, Religion & Culture.

Availability

The article is published (04.11.2021) through The Conversation. It can be read here.

Mutual aid amongst refugees [1st place essay + blog post]

Background

Every year, the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS/ACERMF) hosts a student essay contest. This contest includes two submission categories: (1) undergraduate; (2) graduate/law. Essays must be based on empirical work. For 2021, my essay was ranked 1st place in the graduate/law category. ‘Mutual aid amongst refugees: Organized abandonment and anarchic places’ is based on fieldwork conducted in Turkey and Peru between 2015-2019.

Abstract

The state’s central role in creating the precarious conditions of incarceration, uncertainty, marginalization, and informality is best described as ‘organized abandonment’ (Gilmore 2007). Based on fieldwork in Turkey and Peru, this article shows how some refugees have responded to difficult material and existential conditions by creating anarchic geographic places of meaning. Where subjectivities and practices converge upon egalitarianism, autonomy, and cooperation, the ethnographic cases of refugee placemaking presented are explored through the concept of mutual aid. The observations are evocative, asking us to reflect on how reformulations of space and place as a result of organized abandonment intersect with refugee collectivities and futurities that are beyond the state.

Availability

The full essay can be read here. For a summary, CARFMS/ACERMF asked me to write a blog post, available here.

Critical geographies of race reading group [report]

Background

During the Winter 2021 term, thirteen graduate students at the Department of Geography, McGill University, organized and participated in an informal reading group to explore topics related to race, racism, and racialization from a critical geographies perspective. This initiative was the outcome of a lack in graduate level courses exploring race, social issues, oppression, and resistance offered by the Department of Geography, and from a growing demand for such courses from graduate students who are increasingly aware of the need, importance, and urgency of exploring such themes. The Geography Graduate Society Equity Working Group responded to this by launching the ‘Racial Geographies sub-committee’. This reading group is the outcome of this sub-committee’s work.

Format

Members of this reading group met on a bi-weekly basis, on Thursdays from 10am to noon. In total, reading group members met over 16 contact hours. Each session was organized based on the preferences of the ‘session lead’. This person was in charge of selecting the readings (2-5 articles or book chapters), introducing the session topic, and facilitating session engagements. Sometimes the session lead re-lied on audiovisual material, sometimes not.

Final report

For our final report, including the reading group syllabus and postmortem, is available here.

Lost at sea, saved by Allah: Religious coping on a migrant journey from Cape Verde to Brazil [article]

Abstract

African migrants are taking longer and riskier journeys in the search of new destinations and improved opportunities. Elevated risks lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and trauma, which makes the question of how migrants cope during such journeys an increasingly important area of research. Current research on migrant religious coping has focused on its use prior to departure and post-arrival. Few studies, however, have considered the role of religious coping during the process of migration. Based on interview data of three African shipwreck survivors travelling from Cape Verde to Brazil, this article discusses how they used religious coping as a positive coping strategy during a month spent lost on the Atlantic Ocean. The use of religious coping strategies directly after arrival is also explored. Through the analysis of this extreme case, the article contributes to the literatures on Muslim migrant religious coping and South-South migration from Africa to South America.

Citation

Parent, N., Freier, L.F., and Dawson, W. In Press, 2021. Lost at sea, saved by Allah: religious coping on a migrant journey from Cape Verde to Brazil. Mental Health, Religion and Culture. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2021.1919069.

Availability

The full text is available here.

Hazards and hachures of origins [article]

Background

Project Synergy is a biannual publication centered on vibrance, life, arts & culture. When preparing their first issue, themed ‘Origins’, Artistic Director Alessia Giha Rodríguez ask me to make a written contribution. In this short essay, I engage with the question of human nature and its relation to humanity’s sense of origin. Here, I forewarn readers of this issue, asking them to reflect on the hazards of naturalizing myths and scripts about human organization and sociality.

Availability

‘Hazards and hachures of origins’ is available here. The full issue is available here.