Imagination and Connectedness: Consumption of Global Forms in a Malian Village
This paper is based on fieldwork in a Soninke village in the Senegal River Valley in Mali, from where a large part of the male population has migrated to France, sustaining rural households with various forms of remittances. Meanwhile, with the increasing barriers to social and geographic mobility of the populations in the global South and, particularly, increasing restrictions on immigration into Europe, many of the young men living in the village find themselves involuntarily immobile, as they are unable to migrate to their desired destinations. This paper argues that consumption can be seen as an attempt by these youngsters to participate in an imagined world from which they are largely disconnected. The paper presents various examples of this phenomenon, including the display and consumption of brands, food and modern technology which represent a connectedness to the privileged world of global flows. To the villagers, these are signs of connections that transcend the rural context, representing access to resources and possibilities that are not available in the limited local setting.