Mobility, Family Cohesion and the Changing Media of Remembering : the History of a West African Family
Africa is characterized by a long tradition of migration, local and regional, but also across continents, for various reasons: once forced, but today often in the pursuit of education and new income opportunities. Furthermore, the scope of mobility has greatly expanded, and the patterns of migration have become ever more diverse, including the establishment of transnational families with interconnected households in various countries. At all times, migration has constituted a challenge for the solidarity and social cohesion of families and for the memory of their group's history. In recent decades, however, the media and practices with which family members communicate despite being dispersed and how family history is being remembered have changed dramatically. Early migrants had to rely on the performance of oral traditions, songs, proverbs and rituals connected to objects that represented the ancestors. Today's mobile family members can often travel much more easily to family reunions, and they communicate regularly through mobile phones, Facebook, or the exchange of photos and video clips. In the context of the Focus Group, I will explore these changing means, media and practices of family memory against the backdrop of changing patterns of migration. More specifically, I will engage in the production of a documented and filmed illustration, using the example of one extended family from Northwestern Ghana and Burkina Faso, of the role of these media in saving memories and reconfiguring relations within and beyond the extended family.
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