Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye

Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye's research explores how the foyers (migrant hostels) in Paris as a place of abode where many West African migrants spend years, even decades, bring together conflicting views of the location and conceptual borders of Europe. Residents migrate to Europe in search of a better life, and those who chose to stay in the foyers are those who kept their families “back home”. But although it might not be what they put forward, they find themselves claiming to be Parisians. She is thus asking who is a European anyway, while at the same time challenging the classical and still prevailing approaches to residents of the foyers that focus on their transnational links, but not on their presence and continuity as parts of French cities. She argues that one should radically rethink the image of the poor migrant whose real life and home are not there – the absent migrant – and to overcome the imaginary border between outside and inside that is drawn when one assumes that the migrant is confined to the foyer in a separate space somehow outside the city.

For the ISOE exhibition, Mbodj collaborated with Anissa Michalon.
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Installationview Photo by (c) Mike Terry


Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye, Ph.D. in Anthropology and Sociology from Lyon in 2007, is a Research Fellow at the CNRS, affiliated with the Centre d’études des mondes africains (CEMAf). Her main field of investigation is the anthropology of literacy through ethnographic projects in Mali on writing practices in various settings, as well as broader reflections on written culture. Since 2010, as associate member of In Search of Europe at the ZMO, she has been developing a project on the spatial dimension of the memory of migration, in particular through the history of migrants’ places of residence. She is currently researching issues of memory and materiality in West Africa and in the context of African migration to France.