Talk at Forum for Africa Studies, Feb 2, 2018

Friday Seminar in African Studies: “I am so so very not sure”

Join the Friday Seminar in African Studies and listen to Dr. Kajsa Hallberg Adu‘s research on University Students’ Migration Aspirations in Ghana, Friday 2/2 10.15-11.30, ENG3-2028.


Going to ASA 2015: Rethinking Decolonialization with Student Migration Aspirations

ASA-Slide 2I will be presenting an aspect of my work at the African Studies Association’s yearly meeting in the US, this year in San Diego 19-22 Nov, 2015.

My panel is called Rethinking Decolonilaization and my paper will be on the topic of “Decolonizing Migration Studies using Narratives of University Students in Ghana”.

I am looking forward to attending this famous conference and hopefully making connections for future research!

Find the full program here (PDF).

Final Abstract

IMG_0259This study examines migration aspirations among university students in Ghana. My interest

is in undergraduate students, a group that is largely overlooked both in African studies and

migration theory. The research was focused on migration aspirations, the first stage of any

migration venture, and carried out at University of Ghana, a large public university, and

Ashesi University College, a small private liberal arts college. A combination of methods

was employed: focus groups, an e-survey (n=506), and interviews.

To understand how students view the option to migrate, I argue that an Africanist or decolonial approach must

be used. This can be achieved by letting Ghanaian students themselves explain the

phenomenon as well as by contextualizing Ghanaian university students’ migration

narratives, and not leaving out a critical view of knowledge production in the world.

The findings show that students in the Global South indeed consider migration as a life

option, however, migration aspirations are volatile, often include the aspiration for return,

and are driven by the ambition for further study, rather than being an end in itself. While

other researchers have described a “migration culture” in Ghana, my findings rather point

toward an “education culture”. However, financing such migration as well as the passport

acquisition process, present barriers such that although many students say they aspire to

migrate, most of them have not taken action like applying for a passport. This confirms

research findings that there is a gap between aspiration and ability to migrate. In addition,

my research reveals other reservations to the migration option, like fear of racism and

religious/moral concerns. Further, the students in my study suggest that lower-educated

individuals have a stronger aspiration to migrate than highly educated individuals like

themselves – I construe this as form of “othering”, not previously found in the literature.

Men and women are as likely to aspire to migrate with the exception of women with weak

academic results who are more likely to aspire to migrate. Further, the research established

that university students in Ghana use new communication tools powered by the Internet to

stay in close contact with family and friends abroad. Students also discuss migration in

relation to “exploring”and “enjoying” as well as describe travel similar to the “gap year”

earlier described in the literature, but for students in the Global North.

These results highlight that students in the Global South are generally similar to the

students in the Global North in terms of migration aspirations. However, while the latter

are well covered in the International Student Migration (ISM) discourse the former are not

– and this is the discourse my study contributes to. While individual considerations among

Ghanaian students are similar to those of students in the Global North, I argue that the

migration environment is dissimilar, and to better understand the phenomenon of student

migration originating from the Global South, a more holistic approach is needed, inclusive

of historical, social, and political contexts.

Progress Report Week 12/25

photoPages written: 7

Percentage work done compared to plan: 50% (still, still! working on my theory chapter, but today is the very last day!)

Unforeseen problems: Hunting down the interviewees I want for the last leg of my field research.

Unforeseen joy: A phone call from a Ghanaian professor interested in my project!

Next week I plan to achieve the following: Interview 4 students and transcribe the results.

Progress Report Week 11/25

photoPages written: 10

Percentage work done compared to plan: 50%

Unforeseen problems: Overthinking stuff

Unforeseen joy: Some late-in-the-project mental breakthroughs.

Next week I plan to achieve the following: Start interview process and EMAIL CH 1&2 to supervisors! Its is probably typical and tragic to not dare to send text. I know for a fact it is not the best, but I feel its too much work in progress to send now :-/

Progress Report Week 10/25

photoPages written: 4

Percentage work done compared to plan: 25%

Unforeseen problems: Suddenly not very productive although it was a break from work.

Unforeseen joy: Spending time with friends. Finding some solutions to ideas. Applying for a conference with an abstract that turned out well ( I think).

Next week I plan to achieve the following: Concluding the first two chapters by Wednesday and sending them to supervisors (WAY OVERDUE!), Thu-Fri finding interviewees in my database, doing the first interview and transcribing.

Progress Report Week 9/25

photoPages written: 13 – including figures and tables!

Percentage work done compared to plan: 80%

Unforeseen problems: Insecurity, doubt and computer freezes (but found an on-point chapter in a methodology book on psychological effects of doing a PhD!)

Unforeseen joy: One the other hand a deadline gives energy and focus!

Next week I plan to achieve the following: Rest one day, then email supervisors, I need help with what goes where and maybe cutting some ideas out.