Edited By Trine Lund Thomsen
Chapter 4 ‘So Most People Say: Why Don’t You Go Home? Why Are You Doing This? They Feel Kind of Pity to See People Living Like This’: West African Migrants between Agricultural Exploitation, Informal Street Work and Homelessness (Kristine Juul)
Chapter 4 ‘So Most People Say: Why Don’t You Go Home? Why Are You Doing This? They Feel Kind of Pity to See People Living Like This’: West African Migrants between Agricultural Exploitation, Informal Street Work and Homelessness
The sour-sweet comment that provides the title of this chapter stems from a Nigerian man who at the moment of the interview earned his living from bottle collection on the streets of Copenhagen. Despite his diploma in education and higher electric engineering, this 54-year-old head of household forms part of a new but largely unacknowledged phenomenon: the growing group of highly mobile job-seeking men of West African origin who are scrutinising larger Nordic cities for job and income opportunities. Although often associated with the so-called migration crisis in the Mediterranean, the presence of these men in Copenhagen is primarily a result of the economic recession in Southern Europe.
Until the financial crisis of 2008, many of these men lived stable lives in Southern Europe. Among those arriving from Spain, who are the focus of the present chapter, many formed part of the large contingent of cheap foreign labour that facilitated the remarkable economic growth rates between 1996 and 2006 where Spain’s GDP rose by 30 % (Torres and Gadea 2015: 9). Since then, severe underemployment and dwindling wages have forced many of the country’s foreign labourers to embark on alternative income strategies, including re-migration to other European countries. As different connectivities...
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