The Reversal of Migratory Family Lives: A Cape Verdean Perspective on Gender and Sociality Pre- and Post-deportation (Heike Drotbohm, 2014)

Deportation, as a coerced and involuntary mode of return migration, contradicts common assumptions and understandings of transnational livelihoods. This can be felt particularly strongly in the realm of the family—the social sphere where migration is facilitated and enacted. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork in Cape Verdean transnational social fields, this paper applies a gendered perspective in examining how deportation affects individual positions within transnational families. It studies how female and male deportees try to re-establish their social and affective lives after their return and also takes into account the perspective of family members who continue to live in the (former) destination country and who have to cope with the absence of a deported relative. These findings reveal power relations and social inequalities produced by state removal, unfolding not only between states and non-citizen residents but also among family members whose lives are divided involuntarily by state borders. The article comes to the conclusion that deportation not only ‘reverses’ the position of migrants in their (alleged) countries of origin but also that these processes of ‘reversal’ extend to all achievements of migratory family lives—both in the migrants’ country of origin as well as in the country of destination.