Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


S.N Sangpam



Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Human Migrations can be defined as the movement or displacement of peoples from one place to another, in particular from one country (emigration) to another (immigration) for political, social, economic, or personal reasons. They have been the fact of life for populations integrating into a wider world. Historically, Senegalese migrations to Europe started under colonialism with the massive recruitments by the French colonial administration within the Senegalese territory. This practice of European colonial administration caused the first wave of Senegalese migrations towards Europe to conform to French colonial needs and expectations. Senegalese migrations to Europe continued in the post-colonial period as part of France’s post-war reconstruction and its need for labor to revitalize its economy. In the 2000s, Senegalese migrations to Europe increased tremendously with the “Barca or Barsaakh” phenomenon, involving a whole generation of Senegalese youth. Throughout this research, I provide three broad theoretical frameworks (colonialism and dependency, post-colonialism, globalization and its neoliberal ideology) that may explain this phenomenon. However, I rely on colonialism and dependency and post-colonialism to propose the two leading hypotheses of the study:

H1: If a dependency relationship develops between a colonial power and its former colony, then the former colony’s economy is likely to be weak and unproductive. France’s relationship with Senegal is a dependent relationship in which Senegal’s monoculture economy and general development depend on France’s economic, financial and technical assistance. By weakening the Senegalese economy, the colonial dependent situation has created conditions of generalized poverty and lack of economic opportunities for young people. This situation causes migrations to Europe and elsewhere.

H2: The more post-colonial holders of state power resort to authoritarian rule and the privatization of the state, the more likely they will loot national resources for their private interests. In Senegal, post-colonial rulers have used authoritarian means of governance and appropriated the state resources as personal property. This has created a situation of generalized poverty and lack of economic opportunities for young people. The outcome has been massive migrations to Europe and elsewhere.

I attempt to test these two hypotheses using recent statistical databases and empirical and historical evidence that I collected from the intensive field research I conducted in Senegal during the 2019 summer externship. Based on the evidence, I discuss migrations from Senegal by linking them to the issues of poverty and economic deprivation. Although my hypotheses are largely supported by the evidence, the persistence of poverty in Senegal and its similarities in some aspects with other poor countries suggest that my two causal factors may not completely explain poverty in Senegal. Poverty in Senegal may be partly caused by factors (such as drought and globalization-induced structural adjustment programs of IMF) not accounted for in my hypotheses. This means that migrations in Senegal are partly explained by these other factors.


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