Fragile convivialities: everyday living together in two stateless but diverse regions, Catalonia and Casamance

by Tilmann Heil

Working Papers WP 12-18
October 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Numerous immigrants from Casamance, the southern region of Senegal, currently dwell in Catalonia, the northeast of Spain. Based on anthropological fieldwork in these two sites, I address the regional discourses and practices of conviviality, the process of living together in a shared locality. This parallels and supplements other aspects of Senegalese migrations such as a strong associational life, trading and religious networks, transnational migration patterns, and an economic motivation for migration.

Many of the Casamançais immigrants share a discourse of a specific Casamançais way of cohabitation between ethnicities and religions. The local European counterpart is the Catalan model of social integration called convivència. My analysis shows, first, that the way Casamançais migrants experience and live conviviality in Catalonia is not fully equivalent to practices and discourses in Casamance. Second, apart from regional references, national and global ones are also meaningful for understanding everyday life. Nonetheless, the regional experience in the Casamance offers at least three important reference points: religious cohabitation, multilingualism, and an awareness of internal cultural diversity. They continue to be a relevant framework for contextualising everyday life in Catalonia..

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