Apostolos AndrikopoulosJul 5, 2023
Argonauts of West Africa
Unauthorized Migration and Kinship Dynamics in a Changing Europe
University of Chicago Press 2023
In rapidly changing and highly precarious contexts, unauthorized African migrants turn to kinship in search of security, stability, and predictability. Through the exchange of identity documents between “siblings,” assistance in obtaining such documentation through kinship networks, and marriages that provide access to citizenship, new assemblages of kinship are continually made and remade to navigate the shifting demands of European states. These new kinship relations, however, often prove unreliable, taking on new, unexpected dynamics in the face of codependency; they become more difficult to control than those who enter into such relations can imagine.
Through unusually close ethnographic work in West African migrant communities in Amsterdam, Apostolos Andrikopoulos reveals the unseen dynamics of kinship through shared papers, the tensions of race and gender that develop in mutually beneficial marriages, and the vast, informal networks of people, information, and documentation on which migrants rely. Throughout Argonauts of West Africa: Unauthorized Migration and Kinship Dynamics in a Changing Europe (U Chicago Press, 2023), Andrikopoulos demonstrates how inequality, exclusionary practices, and the changing policies of an often-violent state demand innovative ways of doing kinship to successfully navigate complex migration routes.
Apostolos Andrikopoulos is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at Harvard University and at the University of Amsterdam.