Knut Graw: Phenomenologies of Passage

Phenomologies of Passage: African Migratory Trajectories in the Eastern Mediterranean

Knut Graw

Knut Graw

The research project ‘Phenomenologies of Passage: African Migratory Trajectories in the Eastern Mediterranean’ (2015-2018) envisages ethnographic research with African migrants in the Eastern Mediterranean (esp. Greece, Turkey and Italy), as well as in a selection of the respective home countries such as Senegal, Sudan, South Sudan, and Congo.

On a theoretical level, the project is particularly concerned with the relation/tension between biographically sensitive approaches towards the experience of migration at the beginning of the 21st century (dialogic and existential anthropology, life history studies, phenomenological ethnography) and earlier, critical approaches emphasizing the necessity to analyze the politico-economic conditions underlying migration processes. In this regard, the project is particularly interested in the question of voice, both as a methodological aporia, as well as a possible theoretical nexus between agency- and structure-oriented approaches in the social sciences.

In a parallel move, the project attempts to bridge agency- and structure-oriented approaches by developing an in-depth ethnography of the socio-geographic settings in which these processes take place. In this regard, the project is marked by an interest in questions of transit urbanities and “worlding”, not just of African cities, but of the various European urban areas which, in their role as hubs or stations of transcontinental migration, re-experience the historical and factual proximity of the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean.

Following up on my collaboration with the photographer Charlotte Menin (Marseille), the project will also further explore the possibilities for joint publications or exhibition projects with photographers, film makers and artists.

Knut Graw (PhD) is as a social and cultural researcher specializing in phenomenological, semantic and critical anthropology. His research focuses on the study of endogenous hermeneutic practices in Senegal (especially divination), globalization processes and the experience of migration between West Africa and Southern Europe. He has worked at the University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium, the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin and, as a visiting researcher, at the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-IGCM) in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala and associated researcher at the University of Leuven. He is the coeditor of an edited volume on The Global Horizon: Migratory Expectations in Africa and the Middle East (together with S. Schielke) and currently preparing a monograph on divinatory praxis in Senegal.


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