Hoe and Wage: A Social History of a Circular Migration System in West Africa

By Dennis D. Cordell; Joel W. Gregory et al. | Go to book overview

6
"Yes, Migration Is Good, but . . .," "Yes, Migration Is Bad, but . . .": Circular Migration and Underdevelopment

During the first three quarters of this century, the overwhelming majority of burkinabè peasants who left their villages returned home after several months or years. In recent times, an increasing proportion of emigration, particularly from rural areas, has led to permanent, or at least long-term, settlement elsewhere. Return migration remains nonetheless central to production and reproduction in burkinabè societies. And the topic is understudied, especially in Africa. The National Migration Survey is an extraordinary source of information on return migration. It collected retrospective data from burkinabè men and women within Burkina Faso; most internal migrants, and all international migrants interviewed were returnees. In addition, the survey collected information on emigrants for the five years preceding the survey; it is thus possible to take into account the migrations of those who were out of the country at the time of the operation. Moreover, in contrast to earlier periods, the data from 1969-1973 are statistically representative. They allow the construction of a migration matrix for the years 1969-1973 that is quite complete.1

The aim of this chapter is to explore return migration by burkinabè men and women. The first two parts of the chapter are empirical. We begin by describing return migration over the first three quarters of the century. However, we divide these years into three periods, rather than into the four periods featured up to now.2 Despite the shift, this periodization still

____________________
1
Details on the calculation of migration flows for the years 1969-1973 may be found in Coulibaly, Gregory and Piché 1980a, 46-49. For a comparison of data for this five-year period with those for the other periods defined by this book, see Chapter 4, note 4.
2
First versions of some of the sections of this chapter were written by the late Joel Gregory. His periodization differed somewhat from that eventually adopted for other parts of this book.

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