Making Migrants Responsible for Development: Cape Verdean Returnees and Northern Migration Policies

Lisa Åkesson


In recent years, there has been a surge of “Northern” policy documents concerned with increasing the positive effects of international migration in countries of origin. This article contrasts some basic assumptions in policies on migration, return and development with an anthropological study of Cape Verdean returnees, and it reveals some important disparities between the returnees’ experiences and the ideas underpinning policy documents. The article analyses the role returnees’ savings and skills play in local change in Cape Verde, and in particular it looks into entrepreneurial activities. This is related to a discussion of the conditions that must be fulfilled in order to make it possible for return migrants to contribute to positive social change. In conclusion, the article shows that structural conditions have a fundamental impact on individual migrants’ abilities to support development, a perspective often left out of contemporary policies.

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