Dominances and Diversities: Solidarity, Discontent, and Masculinity Among Young, Migrant, African, Male Entrepreneurs in Johannesburg

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Leo IGBANOI, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
The aspirations of young African males towards attaining dominant models of masculinity motivates them to search for opportunities beyond national borders. Socially determined expectations of manhood such as breadwinning fosters this since their economies more often than not cannot provide meaningful employment for them. Yet, a consequence of emigrating is that these males travel with established understandings of being men, hence the affirmation that migration is a gendered experience.

While the growing body of masculinity-migration research addresses how these males negotiate their masculinities in the face of local masculine articulations in the host countries, a complexity less studied is how masculine relations among the migrant males themselves is manoeuvred. This presentation speaks to the latter subject. 

Drawing on the theoretical framework of global critical studies of masculinities, this study interrogates how a ‘clash’ of differing migrant articulations of masculinities in the transnational space instigates discontent among male groups. It uses qualitative in-depth interviews to explore the voiced sentiments of 25 young, black, African male entrepreneurs in Johannesburg’s informal sector. It anticipates that the young participants will be divided along national, ethnic and class lines as they forge livelihoods for themselves in the transnational field. Hence, how is migrant solidarity disrupted by affiliations with origin-centred masculine identities? What implications does this have for gendered relations among young people in the longer term?  

The study redirects the debate of what it means to be a young male in the African diaspora to experiences contextualised in intra-continental contexts. Thus, it examines what a ‘migrant-migrant’ analyses means for constructions of masculinities, and ultimately social cohesion and development in an African transnational context.