Beyond remittance: Evading uselessness and seeking personhood in Fouta Djallon, Guinea

by Susanna Fioratta

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By Susanna FiorattaFull Article:onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12131/abstract


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/foratta-figure1-600px-300x232.jpg alt: Guinea and Senegal in regional context. Migrants often travel overland between Labe, the largest city in Guinea’s Fouta Djallon highlands, and Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Source: ESRI, with data from DeLorme and ArcWorld.

Guinea and Senegal in regional context. Migrants often travel overland between Labe, the largest city in Guinea’s Fouta Djallon highlands, and Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Source: ESRI, with data from DeLorme and ArcWorld.

) Guinea and Senegal in regional context. Migrants often travel overland between Labe, the largest city in Guinea’s Fouta Djallon highlands, and Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Source: ESRI, with data from DeLorme and ArcWorld.Remittance networks built through transnationalmigration have transformed local economies as wellas social lives in many parts of the world. In thisarticle, I examine the relationship betweentransnational migration and local business practicesfor ethnic Fulɓe people of the Fouta Djallonhighlands of Guinea. Although some Fouta Djallonresidents have withstood poverty with the help ofremittances from migrant relatives, many migrantsfail to earn money abroad. Although it seldom leadsto economic success, migration remains a popularundertaking, especially for young men. Meanwhile,nonmigrants engage in small business projects thatyield little or no income. Analyzing informants’critiques of “uselessness,” I argue that both riskymigration quests and seemingly irrational businesspractices are fueled by a common desire to achievesocial personhood under adverse structuralconditions. Apparent striving for success mitigatesfailure to send or earn money even whilereproducing ideals of mobility and entrepreneurshipin responsible personhood.