par Rosenfeld, Martin
Référence Beyond Plurality in African Diaspora (25-27/9/2008: Keele University, England)
Publication Non publié, 2008-09-26
Communication à un colloque
Résumé : As an immigration flow developed around an economic opportunity, the second-hand cars exportation business between Brussels and Africa presents some particularities. The research was undertaken in the form of in depth interviews and direct observation. Intensive fieldwork has been conducted in Brussels and Cotonou (Benin). This paper will explore three of those characteristics. First, this immigration flow is characterised by important inter-ethnic relations. It is therefore important to carefully categorise the actors of this economic activity and study their interactions. In order to do so, I developed a typology based on the activity carried out in the business. It is interesting to observe that this economic activity attracts different groups such as Lebanese cosmopolitan entrepreneurs working as transport agents, older Maghrebi immigrants working as garage owners or new sub-Saharan immigrants encapsulated in ethnic groups and active in the informal part of the business. The second particularity is the “in between” status of the activity and the neighbourhood in which it is taking place. This economic activity is always at the limit between legal and illegal, formal and informal, and it plays with the notion of the boundary. I will show in what sense I find similarities between these characteristics and those of Brussels neighbourhood in which the activity in concentrated. Finally, the increasing presence of African groups is accompanied by the emergence of African ethnic organisations, African Pentecostal churches and ethnic businesses. This increasing visibility of African groups in the neighbourhoods leads to negative reactions from the local authority which is trying to stop the cars export business. These three characteristics and their specificity will be briefly discussed in the paper in order to show vitality of this particular group of Africans active in Brussels in the second-hand cars export business.