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Human Security Research

Human Security Research Part 1

Life in Unintended Destinations: Stories of Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Morocco and Mexico


Senegal Shores, Photo Credit: Abderrahman Beggar

Over the last decade, increasing numbers of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa have been transiting through Morocco with the goal of moving onward to Spain and the European Union. In a more recent and unanticipated phenomenon, Sub-Saharan African migrants are arriving in South America and journeying northward through Mexico to the United States. Unable to reach their intended destinations due to increasingly securitized borders, these individuals have become stranded in Morocco and Mexico—two reception contexts where they lack claims to basic social services, and where the effects of racial exclusion are systemic and pervasive.

Our study is using life stories (Bertaux 1997) to compare the experiences of irregular Sub-Saharan African migrants who are currently and indefinitely stranded in Morocco and Mexico, unable to go on to their intended destination or to return home. By collaborating with 20 men and women who will narrate detailed stories of their past, present, and anticipated future, and by publishing those stories in a book targeting scholars across disciplines and interested publics, the research will advance four principal objectives:

  1. To explore what happens to irregular Sub-Saharan African migrants in the time and space in-between their departure and their intended destination, specifically how changing circumstances left them “stuck in mobility;”
  2. To compare the life stories of these migrants in two transit or “in-between” countries (Morocco and Mexico) while highlighting the diversity and fluidity of African approaches to story telling;
  3. To understand how they negotiate and resist their positioning as irregular migrants and Black Africans in reception contexts where dominant racial ideologies determine their social ranking;
  4. To discern how these migrants reformulate their dreams, revise their aspirations, and reinvent themselves in locations that were not their intended destinations.


Funding Source: SSHRC Insight 2021-2023

Research Lead: Dr. Abderrahman Beggar, Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Wilfrid Laurier University

Contact Us:

Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Director


Oliver Masakure, Associate Director