Dr Anna-Leena Toivanen: Reading African migration novels from the mobilities perspective

CeMoRe is delighted to be hosting Dr Anna-Leena Toivanen on 14th June who will be presenting her research on ‘Reading African Migration Novels from the Mobilities Perspective’.

While migration is a pivotal element of the hyper-mobile global era and, vice versa, while mobility is an essential part of migration, until recently, relatively little attention has been paid to the genuinely kinetic aspects of migration (e.g., Mainwaring & Bridgen 2016, 247; Schapendonk 2012, 137). This is also the case of the study of migration literature, where mobility, with some exceptions (e.g., Bond 2018; Bromley 2021; Toivanen 2021), is only rarely approached “in a highly literal sense” (Greenblatt 2010, 250). Drawing on the ongoing “humanities turn” in mobility studies (Merriman & Pearce 2017; Aguiar et al. 2019), this paper discusses how the New Mobilities Paradigm can be used to explore literary narratives of migration and their representations of (im)mobilities. I discuss examples from contemporary Francophone African and Afrodiasporic migration novels, concentrating on the texts’ portrayals of concrete mobility practices and modes of transport but also places of transit. Addressing different aspects of migration mobilities, my reading pays attention not only to the migration journey but also pre- and post-migratory mobilities (see Schapendonk et al. 2020). The examples I discuss also include mobilities that do not entail physical human travel, and they reflect the diversity of migrants’ global and local mobilities and their mobile subjectivities (e.g., the holidaymaker; the diasporic returnee; the clandestine traveller) that are congruent or overlap with migration.

Bio: Dr Anna-Leena Toivanen is an Academy Research Fellow at the University of Eastern Finland. She has published on mobility-related themes in African literatures, and her most recent articles feature in Urban Studies, Transfers, Mobilities, Studies in Travel Writing, and Mobility Humanities. She is the author of Mobilities and Cosmopolitanisms in African and Afrodiasporic Literatures (Brill 2021) and acts as the Literary Studies Subject Editor of the Nordic Journal of African Studies. In June 2023, she will be a visiting researcher at CeMoRe at Lancaster University.

This is an on-campus only event and will be taking place at 2-4pm on 14th July in FASS Meeting Room 2. There will be refreshments available from 2pm. We look forward to seeing you there!


Jun 14 2023


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


FASS Meeting Room 2