American Ethnological Society
Oral Presentation Session
Francophone West African migrants have been coming to New York City for more than 40 years. During these years, migrants have worked as street traders, tailors, taxi and limousine drivers, security guards, and import-export businessmen. Many of them have remained in New York City for decades. Some of them have brought their wives from West Africa and are raising families. Others maintain families on two continents. Most of them regularly send remittances “home” to support their families with food, medical supplies, and school fees. In Niger, these men are known as Les New Yorkais, a prestigious designation associated with adventurous people who have taken profound existential risks. As Les New Yorkais have aged their lives have become more complicated. They have to negotiate multiple economic and kinship ties that create complex and conflicted networks in New York City, France, Germany, Niger Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. In this paper, I describe how several of Les New Yorkais have attempted to confront the moral dilemmas of transnational living to become at home in the world (Africa, immigration, ethics).