Living transnational: citizenship, identity and home among South African former immigrants and refugees in Botswana since 1957
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This thesis analyses how South African former immigrants and refugees in Botswana have established transnational connections between their country of origin and their country of migration since 1957. The thesis develops across two main and overlapping strands: transnationalism and citizenship. Considering transnationalism, it argues that the migrants that have crossed the border from South Africa to Botswana (economic immigrants, refugees and freedom fighters) have established multi-layered transnational connections that stretch from their personal identity to the economic and political fields. These connections are contextualised within the broader labour migration movement in southern Africa and the anti-apartheid struggle. Furthermore, these links have allowed migrants to create a sense of community in solidarity with the struggle against white minority rule and to create spaces to set their survival strategies in order for them to decide, among a range of opportunities, what was most convenient to them. In this way, Botswana’s role as a transit corridor for refugees assumed different social meanings: a route to the northern territories of the continent, a temporary solution, a permanent settlement, a passage to return to South Africa for trained saboteurs. Considering citizenship, the thesis shows that South African migrants have conceptualised citizenship taking into account their transnational links but also Botswana’s processes of nation-building and citizenship construction. Migrants’ understanding of citizenship not always reflects Botswana’s official discourse. Because of this, migrants’ process of integration intertwined with their ways to cope with perceptions of discrimination and exclusion that have emerged in Botswana as a result of the nation-building process that privileges the eight Tswana tribes over minorities and naturalised citizens. This thesis is based on original research which drew on a number of methods including archival research and oral histories. It is also interdisciplinary in focus, drawing mostly on literature from sociology, history and migration studies, but also anthropology, geography and international relations. It thus contributes to debates on transnationalism, on citizenship in Botswana and on the country’s role in the South African liberation struggle.