7-Making a living on the move: bottom-up practices of digital entrepreneurship from African migrants and refugees


Nombre: Dr. Griet Steel
Origen: University of Antwerp
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The introduction of digital technologies have shaped, transformed and restructured the life worlds of work and entrepreneurship over the last decades. Especially since the covid crisis, more and more people are working from home and the number of digital nomads, people working remotely using technology and the internet, has increased tremendously. Studies on these location-independent work styles generally find their origin in theories from the Global North and narrowly focus on high skilled workers in the IT business. Relatively few attention is given to the way the digital turn in society has changed work opportunities; both in formal and informal settings in the global south. Digital entrepreneurship is for instance becoming a rising trend in Africa, be it in other forms and modalities. The few empirical researches on this topic show that digital technology triggers bottom-up practices of electronic commerce (e-commerce) in which men, but also a large number of women, buy and sell goods, products, services and funds through digital mediation. Also here questions raise on the place dependency of these digital entrepreneurial practices and its attraction for mobile groups. Whom are the digital nomads from Africa and how do their digital business intermingle with migration and refugee experiences? In order to address these questions, this panel welcomes ethnographic papers focusing on the mundane practices of e-commerce of refugees, migrants and tourists from Africa, and scrutinizing the way their digital entrepreneurial practices are gendered. It looks for empirical examples of bottom-up practice of digital entrepreneurs of people on the move to contribute to debates on the digital migration and the discussions  on digital entrepreneurship from a gendered and African perspective.


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