Article (Scientific journals)
Negotiating Moral Authority for Body Repatriation: The Case of Senegalese Migration
De Heusch, Félicien; Lacroix, Thomas
2023In Interventions: the International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, p. 1-21
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Keywords :
Body repatriation; Europe; moral geography; Senegal; Senegalese migrants; thanatic ethics; Anthropology
Abstract :
[en] “I will go to Touba dead or alive” is a well-known adage among Senegalese migrants that refers to believers’ commitment to be buried in the holy city of Touba. Drawing on an ethnographic study undertaken in Belgium, Spain, and Senegal, this essay sheds light on the activities, mutual relations, and negotiations between transnational organizations in charge of body repatriation. The thanatic ethics, the moral code of conduct concerning death, is a source of moral authority, political leverage, and even occasionally, of financial profit for these organizations. This essay focuses on the “historical” actors in this field, namely, the Murid Muslim brotherhood and hometown organizations and how they had to cope with the coming of a new player, i.e. private companies offering repatriation insurance. We examine the functioning of these organizations and the ways in which they adapt to the transformations of Senegalese transnationalism. The essay starts with a theoretical account of the production, forms, and evolution of the thanatic ethics that underpins the transnational management of death. Shifting from Europe to Senegal it examines how the Murid authorities make use of the administration of the Touba necropolis to buttress their moral authority. Meanwhile, new insurance products targeting Senegalese migrants are emerging that negotiate with both the Murid brotherhood and the Senegalese State. In conclusion, we argue that the interplay of both traditional and new moral authorities enables a co-construction of a contemporary thanatic authority. This co-construction transforms Senegalese transnationalism while reflecting social change dynamics in the Senegalese society.
Disciplines :
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
De Heusch, Félicien ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Institut de recherche en Sciences Sociales (IRSS) ; Maison Française d’Oxford, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Lacroix, Thomas ;  Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium ; Maison Française d’Oxford, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Language :
Title :
Negotiating Moral Authority for Body Repatriation: The Case of Senegalese Migration
Publication date :
Journal title :
Interventions: the International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Publisher :
Pages :
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Funders :
ERC - European Research Council [BE]
Funding text :
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 680014. The project has been validated by the ERC ethical screening (file No. 030652016) and by the University of Liège’s Ethics Review Board (CEIS). Anonymity (pseudonymization) and informed consent (written or oral consent, according to the type of research environment) have been ensured. Different giving-back sessions have been organized with the research participants.
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since 16 June 2023


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