In this article, we draw on the volatile complexity of African migrant trajectories in Central America to broaden the scope of transnational scholarship. These trajectories are characterised by mobilities as well as immobilities, taking shape in particular local contexts. By focusing on the interplays between displacement and emplacement that are part of these trajectories, we aim to increase our understanding of the extent to which migrants still ‘on the move’ experience both temporal embeddedness and cross-border connectedness, thereby acknowledging and unravelling transnational lives as they ‘touch the ground’ en route. To do so, we build on long-standing scholarly commitments in Central and South America and recent field research in Costa Rica. We go into selected empirical cases to discuss the dynamics of travelling, dwelling and travelling again as part of African migrant trajectories across Central America. We then explore the value of a ‘shifting’ transnational social field perspective and indicate some challenges for future trajectory research.

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Population, Space and Place
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Drotbohm, H., & Winters, N. (2021). A shifting yet grounded transnational social field: Interplays of displacement and emplacement in African migrant trajectories across Central America. In Population, Space and Place. doi:10.1002/psp.2421