“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.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


In recent years, new types of mobility flows have emerged between West African societies, Southern Europe and the Nordic countries. Pushed by the economic recession in Southern Europe, that disproportionately affected certain segments of society, West-African migrants who left their societies of origin over the last 20 years to find better opportunities in Spain, Portugal or Italy are now increasingly present on the streets of the Nordic capitals. Although their presence in most cases is legal, few manage to integrate into the rigid and regulated Danish labor market. Even fewer succeed in accessing suitable lodging. Instead they survive as modern hunter-gatherers on a mix of can collection and charities. The aim of the present chapter is to understand the background for the development of this new form of circular migration and to discuss the strategies, aspirations and hopes that motivate migrants surviving through informal street work. The chapter seeks to find answers to the following questions: How come that both young and more experienced migrants travel to Copenhagen, or other Nordic cities, where they encounter a highly regulated job market and very few job offers? How do they make sense of their situation as homeless jobseekers and finally: how come they return at several occasions once they realize that chances of getting a regular job in Copenhagen are close to nil?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChanges and Challenges of Cross-border Mobility within the European Union
EditorsTrine Lund Thomsen
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherPeter Lang
Publication date1 Jul 2020
Article number4
Commissioning bodyAalborg University
ISBN (Print)978363181438
ISBN (Electronic)9783631828533
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
SeriesPolitical and Social Change


  • Onward migration
  • (Im)mobility
  • Exploitation
  • Homelessness
  • Informal street work
  • West Africa
  • Copenhagen
  • Spain

Cite this