Beyond occidentalism: Critique of life in Europe by Tuaregs in Niger
Keywords:Tuaregs, Occidentalism, perceptions of Europe, habitus, migration
This article focuses on the narratives of Tuaregs in northern Niger, which discuss life in Europe. The repetitive topoi identified within their rather critical narratives about Europe refer to the lack of time and space and consequently, the lack of freedom; appreciation of infrastructure against the backdrop of poor social ties; and absence of atmosphere. While Occidentalist perspective interprets narratives on Europe as the affirmation of identity and cultural values, I will introduce habitus into the analysis in order to include the embodied experience impact on the narratives and practices. I argue that contact and interaction with Europeans and travelling to Europe influences perceptions of Europe by Tuaregs. Furthermore the dialogic construction of ideas about Europe needs to be acknowledged. It is becoming increasingly visible how interaction, exchange and legal travel facilitate alternative versions of Occidentalism.