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Conviviality : a comparison of life in society between the Casamance and Catalonia


Heil,  Tilmann
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Heil, T. (2011). Conviviality: a comparison of life in society between the Casamance and Catalonia. Talk presented at Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies. 110th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Montréal, Canada. 2011-11-16 - 2011-11-20.

Numerous immigrants from the Casamance, the southern region of Senegal, currently dwell in Catalonia, the North-East of Spain. Based on anthropological fieldwork in these two sites, I address the discourses and practices of conviviality, the 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 Casamancais immigrants share a discourse of a specific Casamancais way of cohabitation between ethnicities and religions. The local European complement is the Catalan model of social integration of convivència. The Casamancais in Catalonia often translate it into Castilian: convivencia. Firstly, the way Casamancais migrants experience and live conviviality in Catalonia is not fully equivalent to practices and discourses in the Casamance. Secondly, experiences along the migration trajectory in West African and North African transit spaces and in Spain also play in. But convivencia remains meaningful: they deduct a strong sense for an appropriate conduct in public, at the workplace, and towards neighbours which includes aspects such as taking part in local festivities, learning local languages, greeting, consideration, and tolerance. Thus, this paper casts a new light on one Senegalese migration trajectory, and it explores conviviality as a strong concept in linking and understanding the social lives of Casamancais both in Europe and Senegal.