"If you give me some sexing, I might talk to you": researching the Senegalese beach-boys "at my side"

  • Emilie Venables Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh

Abstract

This paper examines some of the difficulties that I encountered during my doctoral fieldwork on aspirations of migration amongst young men and women in Senegal. I discuss how my fieldwork with the beach-boys of the Casamance often led to compromising situations that I had not experienced in other areas of my research. Using one interview in particular, I describe the discomfort and guilt I often felt during my fieldwork, and show how I felt torn between being loyal to myself, my work and my informants. I show how the time I spent carrying out research with the coteman led to conflict between myself and my other Senegalese friends, who disapproved of my research and the people with whom I spent my time. Rather than this paper being about my research findings, it is about the research process.

Author Biography

Emilie Venables, Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh
Emilie Venables recently submitted her PhD at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focused on aspirations of migration in Senegal, and she has looked at how sexuality, internet dating and illegal pirogue departures have been used as migration strategies by young Senegalese men and women. She is currently a senior researcher at the Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit (RHRU) in Johannesburg. She can be contacted at evenables(AT)rhru.co.za.