Jennifer Cole

Jennifer Cole

University of Chicago

Jennifer Cole, an anthropologist, is professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago and co-chair of the Committee on African Studies. Her published work includes Forget Colonialism? Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar (2001), Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar (2010) and several edited volumes including Love in Africa (with Lynn Thomas, 2009) and Affective Circuits: African Migration to Europe (with Christian Groes, 2017). She is currently completing a book provisionally entitled “The Foreigner’s Woman.”    

Talk Information:

Decolonizing Female Migration: Migration through Marriage in a Soap Operatic Key
September 23, 2022 | 9:00 AM

In the past twenty years, a large body of work has emerged examining migration that occurs through marriage, including, most recently, calls to move beyond state-based categories of analysis.  Simultaneously, there has been a separate, important body of literature that seeks to transcend miserabilist depictions of African migration to Europe through recourse to the figure of the adventurer –the male migrant who sets out to prove himself in the wilderness and then return home. Set against these discussions, this presentation explores the migration journeys of Malagasy women who migrate to France via their marriages with white French men.  Drawing on extended fieldwork in France and Madagascar, I show how for these women, building a non-state based understanding of their migration means taking careful account of how women manage their different social networks both on their perilous journeys off the island, and later, on their equally perilous trips home to visit their families. The paper develops the idea of migration as a conjoining of structures, which in this case, plays out in a “soap operatic key.”  

For further reading:

Joëlle Moret, Apostolos Andrikopoulos & Janine Dahinden (2021) Contesting categories: cross-border marriages from the perspectives of the state, spouses and researchers, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47:2, 325-342,

Isaie Dougnon. Translated from French by Helene Gagliardi. Migration as coping with risk and state barriers: Malian migrants' conceptions of being far from home. (2013). African MigrationsPatterns and Perspectives. Edited by Abdoulaye Kane and Todd H. Leedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.