Development through the diaspora: hometown associations in Africa and Britain

This project aimed to understand the contribution that African migrants’ associations in the diaspora make to development in Africa.

The project focused on four case studies (Bali and Manyu in Cameroon; Rungwe and Newala in Tanzania) and examined how migrants’ associations (known as ‘home associations’) formed by migrants from those places worked.

The project undertook research in the case study towns themselves and with migrants from those towns in the relevant urban centres in Cameroon, Tanzania and the UK. As such it is the first in-depth comparative study that considers transnational African home associations in both their local and international contexts.

The project aimed to answer three questions about these home associations:

  1. What is their structure and character?
  2. What development work do they do in Africa?
  3. What political work do they do in Africa?

In so doing, the project aimed to provide empirical evidence that can illuminate policy proposals for enrolling Africa’s diaspora into the international development process. It also aimed to engage with social theories of the relationship between migration, space and development.

Staff member: Claire Mercer, with Ben Page, University College London, and Martin Evans, University of Chester

Project period: October 2004 to November 2008

Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Related publications:


  • Mercer, C., Page. B., and Evans, M. (2008) Development and the African Diaspora: place and the politics of home associations, London: Zed

Book chapters:

  • Page, B., (2009) ‘Remittances’ in R. Kitchin and N. Thrift International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, Amsterdam: Elseiver
  • Page, B., and Mercer, C. (2010) ‘Diasporas and development’ in Knott, K., and McLoughlin, S. (eds.) Diasporas: concepts, identities, intersections, London: Zed (forthcoming)


  • Page, B. (2007) ‘Slow going: the mortuary, modernity and the home-town association in Bali-Nyonga, Cameroon’ Africa, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 419-441
  • Page, B., Mercer, C., and Evans, M. (2009) ‘African transnationalisms and diaspora networks: an introduction’ Global Networks, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 137-140
  • Mercer, C., Page, B., and Evans, M. (2009) ‘Unsettling connections: transnational networks, development and African home associations’, Global Networks, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 141-161
  • Evans, M. (2010) ‘Primary patriotism, shifting identity: hometown associations in Manyu division, South West Cameroon’, Africa (forthcoming)
  • Mercer, C. & Page, B. (forthcoming in 2010) ‘African home associations in Britain: between political belonging and moral conviviality’, African Diaspora, Vol. 3, No. 1
  • Page, B., Evans, M. & Mercer, C. (forthcoming in 2010) ‘Revisiting the politics of belonging in Cameroon’, Africa, Vol. 80, No. 3

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