The International Handbook on Gender, Migration and Transnationalism
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The International Handbook on Gender, Migration and Transnationalism

Global and Development Perspectives

Edited by Laura Oso and Natalia Ribas Mateos

The International Handbook on Gender, Migration and Transnationalism represents a state-of-the-art review of the critical importance of the links between gender and migration in a globalising world. It draws on original, largely field-based contributions by authors across a range of disciplinary provenances worldwide.
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Chapter 8: Back to Africa: second chances for the children of West African immigrants

Caroline H. Bledsoe and Papa Sow


This handbook focuses on the connections among gender, migration, development and transnationalism. This chapter takes up a highly focused topic – what appears at first to be a counterintuitive practice on the part of African immigrant parents in the United States who send their children, particularly boys, back to the home country to be raised. In the process, however, it raises several broader issues. First, it draws our attention to youth from African immigrant families and the heightened risks they can face not only in places like Europe, but in a country that prides itself as being a nation of immigrants, the contemporary US. Indeed, because of recent changes in its laws governing criminal sentencing, the United States has within a very short time produced shockingly high rates of incarceration of its own citizens and legal residents: particularly of young black men. Second, it addresses the formation of a socially ascribed gendered identity: in this case, a specific version of masculinity – a dangerously aggressive one with which black boys in particular seem particularly likely to be associated. Finally, it considers simultaneously aspects of the richest and poorest places on earth: the recent immigrants of Sub-Saharan African origin living in the United States.

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