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Abstract

The 'migration journey' has proven to be a fruitful lens to question the simplistic notion that the outcome of migration solely depends on a momentous go/no-go decision in the countries of origin. At the same time, we argue that the normative/sedentarist principles of migration studies produce the risk to approach the journey as an exceptional phase of mobility, in-between presumed place-based lives. This paper therefore aims to explore the conceptual limits of the migration journey literature. To challenge the notion that the migration journey is fundamentally different from pre- and postmigratory mobilities, we combine two empirical research projects that have followed the im/mobility trajectories of West Africans. The first project focuses on the trajectories of itinerant gold miners within West Africa, the second concentrates on the im/ mobility of West Africans within Europe. By juxtaposing the empirical insights of these seemingly different contexts, we stress the need to embed migratory movements in a continuous field of mobility practices across spaces in Africa and Europe. This results in our plea for a research agenda that does not see 'migrancy' as a pre-given marker of difference, but as a normative artefact of mobility regimes.

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