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BottleneckMoving, Building, and Belonging in an African City$
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Caroline Melly

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226488875

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226489063.001.0001

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The Adjusted State in the Meantime

The Adjusted State in the Meantime

(p.101) Four The Adjusted State in the Meantime

Caroline Melly

University of Chicago Press

Drawing on ethnographic research within an elite, quasi-state organization called APIX, this chapter examines bureaucratic bottlenecks and their implications. Faced with sluggish foreign investment rates, APIX administrators worked to construct a program that would transform remitting migrants into large-scale investors in Senegal’s “emergent” economy. The project reflected both global trends in development and local strategies for linking transnational migrants and the communities they left behind. What was particularly striking about APIX’s Diasporic Entrepreneur program was that it remained in the planning stages for many years, without enrolled investors, caught between the grim economic realities of the present moment and its ambitious future goals. Rather than theorizing employees’ efforts as indicative of the failure, emptiness, or dysfunction of the postcolonial African state, this chapter adapts the bottleneck concept to examine how various institutional actors used the stalled project as a platform upon which to build alliances, exchange ideas, and redefine the contours of legitimate economic intervention. In doing so, APIX officials cast the African state as newly relevant, future-focused, and present through its strategic and purposeful of absence. Moreover, they institutionalized new visions of the productive citizen, casting the affluent, absent—and indeed mythical—migrant as a spectacularly present national leader.

Keywords:   diasporic entrepreneur, structural adjustment, postcolonialism, Africa, state, bureaucracy, transnational migration, development, investment, failure

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