Authors: Presca Wanki (UNU-CRIS), Ilse Derluyn (UNU-CRIS) and Ine Lietaert (UNU-CRIS)
Published in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Using the concepts of social navigation and vital conjunctures, this paper investigates how Cameroonian returnees experience their return in a crisis-ridden context in constant decay, characterised by material and existential uncertainties. Based on semi-structured interviews with 41 Cameroonians returning from countries in the Global North under different circumstances, we examine the ingenuity of these returnees to navigate an environment that is constantly changing. To uncover this, we first analysed returnees’ perspectives on how they were received by their different communities of origin. Second, through the subjective experiences of returnees, we explain the unpredictable macro-structural challenges such as the ‘anglophone crisis’, labour market integration and institutional challenges in creating business. We further explore the tactics generated by returnees to navigate the socio-cultural, economic and political context characterised by uncertainties. The results illustrate the agency and proactivity by returnees who returned empty-handed and those who returned with resources to generate diverse tactics to cope with community expectations and sustain themselves economically. This article contributes to the literature on return and reintegration, where the returnees developed complex actions to manoeuvre unpredictable events in a changing spatial context.
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