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Return migration to Africa

Marie-Laurence Flahaux, Bruno Schoumaker et Thierry Eggerickx

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the literature on return migration has been considerably developed (Carling et al., 2011), but evidence on the return of African migrants remains scarce. The question of return migration is generating increasing policy attention among policy makers, not only in the countries of destination, but also in countries of origin. While the policy makers in destination countries increasingly recommend the return of undocumented migrants as a key measure for combating irregular migration, governments of origin countries in Africa are instead targeting the return of those migrants who have acquired human and financial capital, i.e. those who are perceived as able to contribute to the development of their origin country (Sinatti, 2013).

However, because of the dearth of quantitative data, the return of African migrants to their origin country remains poorly understood. Advantage could be taken from less-used data, e.g. national population registers, surveys and censuses (Dumont and Spielvogel, 2008), as well as new quantitative and qualitative data, in order to contribute to a better understanding of the topic. The measure of the returns, their trends and determinants, the extent to which migrants intend to stay temporarily or permanently in the destination countries, and how those who have returned reintegrate in their origin country are examples of themes targeted in this special issue.

This special issue intends to gather theoretical or empirical papers, using quantitative, qualitative or a mixed methods approach, bringing a new look at the question of return of African migrants, whatever their region of origin (North, West, Central, East or Southern Africa), the country to which they migrated (in Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania or another African country) and their initial motives for migration (economic, political, family, professional or study reasons).

This call for papers is structured around two main themes:

Leaving the country of destination and returning to the country of origin

How can we explain that some individuals migrate with the intent of permanent settlement, while others wish to stay temporarily abroad? How do migration intentions evolve over time, and by which factors are they influenced? Who are the migrants returning to their country of origin? Are they from politically and economically stable countries? Are skilled migrants more or less likely to return? Are returning migrants forced or encouraged to go back by the authorities of their countries of destination?

Experiencing reintegration into the country of origin after the return

What is the role of the migration experience for return migrants in their country of origin? How do they reintegrate at a professional, economical and social level after their return? Have they benefited from their migration, when compared to people who have never migrated? Have their living conditions improved upon those they had before their departure, or those they experienced abroad? Do they invest in their country of origin? Do they introduce new values and behaviours in their community of origin? How are they perceived by their networks when they come back and afterwards? How do these processes happen for migrants who were expelled or encouraged to return by the authorities of their destination country? Do they want to migrate again, and do they really leave their country of origin thereafter?


-Deadline for submission of titles and abstracts (ca. 350 words): 1st April 2016.

-Decision of acceptance of abstracts: 1st May 2016

-Final date for submitting articles will be September 15th 2016.


Abstracts and articles should be sent to:
Marie-Laurence Flahaux -
Bruno Schoumaker -
Thierry Eggerickx -

Note to the authors


Carling J., Mortensen E.B., Wu J., 2011. A Systematic Bibliography on Return Migration, PRIO Paper. PRIO, Oslo, 287 p.

Sinatti G., 2014. Return migration as a win-win-win scenario? Visions of return among Senegalese migrants, the state of origin and receiving countries, Ethnic and Racial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.868016.

Dumont J.-C., Spielvogel G., 2008. Les migrations de retour: un nouveau regard. In OCDE : Perspectives Des Migrations Internationales - Rapport Annuel, OCDE, Paris, 181-246.

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