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Anchoring and Mobility of Families of African Origin: Cross Perspectives of Two Generations

Sabrina Aouici, Rémi Gallou

This article aims at studying the development of relationships in families of Sub-Saharan origin now living in France, and is based on interviews with two generations of adults (parents and young adult children). The duality of references to the home countries as regards practices, values, standards or educational principles is constant. Children and parents provide a dual focus on the journey, the background and the destiny of each person. The building up of individual identities, impacted by a wide range of references, varies according to the generation to which the individual belongs. Migrant parents remain attached to their African identities (ethnic, national, pan African, even transnational), whilst acknowledging that their identity has acquired a French « segment. » The young people, on the other hand, declare that they feel themselves to be French citizens and would like to be recognized as such. Both generations affirm that they are comfortable in France. Where children express an interest for Africa, proof of their attachment to their countries of origin, this does not mean they are therefore tempted to live in them. As for the parents, they hesitate when it comes to determining their « final resting place, » between deciding whether to be laid to rest in their ancestral mainland, or to be buried in France and thus remain close to those of their immediate lineage. The above considerations are drawn from some sixty interviews carried out amongst immigrant parents (whose social upbringing took place in Africa) and the children (born in France or brought there at an early age).