“Maybe only an anthropologist would be attracted to a place because it has been ranked last in a survey that measured factors such as personal safety, health, education and transport in 400 cities. Bruce Whitehouse did ethnographic research in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo and, in 2003, the ‘world’s worst city.’ He was trying to understand a paradox: why has this city attracted migrants from other African countries? More importantly, his book, Migrants and Strangers in an African City: Exile, Dignity, Belonging is an attempt to shed light on the position of these migrants and their children (many of whom were born in Brazzaville and have Congolese citizenship) as ‘strangers’ in Georg Simmel’s sense. I learned a lot from reading this book: about South–South migration, particularly in Africa; about ‘strangerhood’ as a condition that is actively reproduced both by migrants and by members of the host society; about xenophobia not as an endemic cultural trait but as a historical phenomenon; about the motivations of people who move to a country where 70 per cent of the inhabitants live in absolute poverty; and about the performative and historically contingent nature of national identity in an African context. Whitehouse’s ethnography is an often surprising and carefully argued book.”

– Klaus Neumann, Inside Story

“An in-depth study that provokes more questions about other migrants in other settings across the continent. It opens a window on the motivations, lives, achievements and frustrations that affect so many Africans, and it is a story well worth reading about.”

– Nicholas Walton, New Books in African Studies

“The case study material is used to great effect to pursue a broader argument that resonates in a wider context. This takes it beyond a volume for specialists in West African migration and makes it valuable reading for those concerned with notions of belonging, diaspora and integration elsewhere in Africa and beyond.”

– Oliver Bakewell, Ethnic & Racial Studies


Listed below are only those articles of mine available free online; see my CV for a more complete listing.