27-28 September 2018 Itineraries of the african elites in the world

Call to communication
Networks and transfers between Diasporas and „small societies”
Colloquium organized by the Institute of African Studies at the University of Bucharest,
The Interdisciplinary Network of the African World (RIAM, Paris), the CR 24 of the International Association of French Language Sociologists
and Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi University of Bucharest,
27-28 September 2018

„African elites were formed in the countries of the former Soviet bloc” (ELITAF)1 , as a result of the work carried out within the framework of programs of studies and research opened to African students in these countries. Without claiming to propose a summary of the research that has been carried out so far, this call for communications is addressed to all those who work on the international circulation of the African elites, as well as on the networks established between diasporas and „small societies” in connection with the programs of studies abroad. The period taken into account is post-Cold War era, a period of „transition” that has already been the subject of several „postcolonial” and „post-communist” studies. The research to date has brought together a range of historical data, which helped constitute a provisional map of the academic migration flows between the postcolonial South and the „communist” East before 1990. Moreover, these studies have focused on the contribution of these migration waves to the construction of States, their specific chronology and their „blank spots” still to be explored. While these studies have placed great emphasis on biographies and experiences during study visits of African students in the Eastern European countries, the trajectories of former students, their professional and political future, their possible conversions and the new orientations of migratory flows (sometimes including diasporic journeys) are less known. Thus, we wish to integrate into our inquiry the issue of the exchanges between „small” and „large” societies ( which has been developed by the work carried out by the Research Committee 24 of AISLF), in particular with regards to the avatars of the international circulation associated with the studies aboard, the conditions for the recognition of diplomas obtained in the „Eastern countries” in particular, as well as the strategies for reconversion, integration into trans-disciplinary and transnational professional and academic networks, or the adaptation of students to European programs and „excellence” policies (post-Bologna).

Several sets of questions deserve to be asked.

Due to the intensification of migratory flows in recent years and the differences between the reception policies of European and North American countries in particular, the international circuits taken by migrants have undergone several transformations, and the routes have become more and more varied and complex. The regional wars, the shifting of political and economic borders (as a result of globalization and „enlargement” of transnational organizations), have accentuated the asymmetry and the gap between a „center” that is put into question and the „peripheries” that are in the process of reconfiguring themselves. The strategies developed by candidates for studies abroad can be seen as responses to changes both in the direction of migration flows and in regards to the „supply” of the international academic market. Similarly, the effects that the studies abroad had on the re-composition and reorientations of migratory flows are to be studied.

Furthermore, the study of the reshaping of the fields of power in different countries with new forms of domination or new ideological productions should be resumed. The changes that have taken place since the disappearance of the former socialist bloc have had undeniable effects in the reconfiguration of the elites of power and their relationship with the intellectual elites. Recent accounts and publications point to opposing perspectives in „post-communist” and „postcolonial” studies on the meaning given to the recent history, the changing political orientations, and the institutional and biographical ramifications concerning these elites. In this sense, it is useful to examine the conditions of emergence of a specific object of research, such as the international circulation of the African elites (at the intersection of studies devoted to the formation of elites), the international students and elites of the former socialist countries and their becoming. It would also be appropriate to examine in this context the role of international organizations (UNESCO, IMF, OECD, World Bank ..., but also NGOs) in accelerating the process of international exchanges through their programs of aid and solidarity with African countries.

The matter related to the link between „mobility” and „migration” (very often treated separately, according to the scientific specializations) deserves to be studied in depth. „Migrants” and „itinerants”, the former being associated with exiles and refugees, the latter with the circulation of human capital, often have interchangeable roles and comparable experiences in crossing the borders/frontiers. The denunciation of the „brain drain” has given way to the ideology of „brain gain” (considering the contribution of cultural, economic and social capital) for the countries of origin as a result of these migratory movements in connection with the programs of international studies. Living conditions in the diaspora and the return to the country of origin are to be examined more closely. It often involves changes in status, instability, or even poverty. However, significant differences are to be taken into account depending on the country or the professional fields in question.

In line with the reflection on the „small societies”, which animates the work of CR 24 „Small societies and construction of knowledge”, it would be wise (following the pattern of the African elites), to raise questions during this colloquium regarding those who come from „small societies” and operate at the crossroads of contrasting social realities in different areas of society. These smugglers of knowledge, cultures and values „forge” societies on a daily basis. By questioning boundaries, representations, ways of doing and being of today, they contribute to the transformation of the contemporary world, imperceptibly but significantly. In particular, what happens to the social sciences when „small”, non-hegemonic societies become globalized, while hegemonic „big societies” fold on themselves? What are the most important places of influence in this back and forth between societies of unequal size, weight and heritage?

These questions can have multiple answers. Our colloquium explicitly aims to encourage scientific and academic cooperation between institutions and collectives of research, whose field of study is Africa, its presence in the world, and its place in the international exchanges. The opportunity to come together around a joint research project will be examined on this occasion.
A round table bringing together African students in Romania, as well as heads of public and associative organizations, will be held at the end.
The communication proposals, of about 4,000 characters (including spaces), are to be sent before July 14, 2018 to one of the following addresses:

simonacorlan1@yahoo.com (Simona Corlan-Ioan)
mihaidg@yahoo.fr (Mihaï Dinu Gheorghiu).
svetlakoleva2002@yahoo.com (Svetla Koleva)
llabache@free.fr (Lucette Labache)
grazia.scarfo@gmail.com (Grazia Scarfo)
taniyasmirnova@yahoo.fr (Tatiana Smirnova)

1This program was launched in 2012 by the Interdisciplinary Network Africa World (RIAM), with the support of the House Foundation of Human Sciences (FMSH) and the Institute of interdisciplinary research on social issues (IRIS, EHESS, Paris) and has given rise to several publications. The collective activities organized in this context ended in 2016; research continued in several countries. In the years 2014-2016, the RIAM was responsible for the "African Elites in the World" team of the "Mutations and African Challenges" program, which made it possible to carry out research on African elites, particularly in Mali, in Mauritania, Réunion, Cameroon, and Russia. We also wish to continue the debate initiated on the occasion of the 20th AISLF Congress, "Societies in Motion, Sociology in Change", at CR 24 "Small Societies and Building/Construction of Knowledge", Montreal, July 2016.

Bibliographic references

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Brigitte Bertoncello, Sylvie Bredeloup, 2009, Chine-Afrique ou la valse des entrepreneurs migrants, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, juillet, vol. 25, p. 45-70.

Sylvie Bredeloup, 2012, African migrations, work, and new entrepreneurs, in Li Peilin and L. Rouleau Berger (ed.), China’s Internal and International Migration, Routledge, China Policy Series, p. 202- 210.

Sylvie Bredeloup, 2014, Entre l’Afrique et la Chine : pluralité des parcours professionnels des étudiants ouest-africains, Cahiers de la Recherche sur l’Education et les Savoirs, n°13.

Svetlana Dimitrova, 2015, Etudiant international en URSS, Africain en Russie, citoyen global au Québec. Expériences de transition, in : Monique de Saint Martin, Grazia Scarfò Ghellab, & Kamal Mellakh (dirs.), Étudier à l’Est. Expériences de diplômés africains, Paris, Karthala/FMSH, pp. 173-185.

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M. D. Gheorghiu, A. Netedu, with I. Macovei and C. Olaru, 2015, Etudiants d’Afrique en RDA et en Roumanie. Les cadres sociaux et politiques de leurs expériences, in Monique de Saint Martin, Grazia Scarfò Ghellab et Kamal Mellakh (éds.), Etudier à l’Est. Expériences de diplômés africains. Paris, Karthala, pp. 95-109.

Constantin Katsakioris, 2017, Creating a Social Intelligentsia: Soviet Educational Aid and its Impact on Africa (1960-1991), Cahiers d’études africaines, 2, n° 226, pp. 259-288.

Lucette Labache, 2017, En attendant l’indépendance ? Projet autonomiste à La Réunion et formation de cadres dans les pays socialistes, Cahiers d’études africaines, 2, n°226, 355-377

Michèle Leclerc-Olive, 2016, Former des élites : mobilités des étudiants d’Afrique au Nord du Sahara dans les pays de l’ex-bloc socialiste. Editorial, Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 32 (2), pp. 7-12.

Kamal Mellakh, 2016, « La formation des étudiants marocains dans les pays de l’Est de l’Europe (1960-2015), Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 32 (2), pp. 39-56.

Monique de Saint Martin, Grazia Scarfò Ghellab et Kamal Mellakh (dirs.), 2015, Etudier à l’Est. Expériences de diplômés africains. Paris, Karthala, 298 p. (Préface de Jean-Pierre Dozon).

Tatiana Smirnova, 2015, Les désillusions politiques des étudiants maliens en Russie dans les années 1990, in Monique de Saint Martin, Grazia Scarfò Ghellab et Kamal Mellakh (éds.), Etudier à l’Est. Expériences de diplômés africains. Paris, Karthala, pp. 161-172.

Patrice Yengo, Monique de Saint Martin, 2017, Quelles contributions des élites « rouges » au façonnement des États post-coloniaux?, in Cahiers d’études africaines, 2 (n° 226), pp. 231-258 (numéro spécial « Elites de retour de l’Est »).