Nina Berman: Land, Charity, and Romance: Transnational Dynamics of German Migration to Kenya

October 25, 2012

I am working on an interdisciplinary study that will be based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, statistical data collection, and analyses of cultural representations and public debates, and that will discuss changes brought on by migration patterns that flow from wealthy nations of the northern hemisphere (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) to a poorer nation of the southern hemisphere (Kenya). Over the past forty years, German-speaking tourists and settlers have contributed to shaping life in Diani, a community located on the south coast of Mombasa. Germans, Swiss, and Austrians are active in the area as tourists, but also as managers of hotels; owners of boutiques, travel agencies, nightclubs, diving businesses, and restaurants; landlords of expensive private villas; and employers of Kenyans. Some move to Kenya to retire, and some engage in binational romantic relationships. Over time, the activities of these tourists and settlers have had a significant impact on the local community, affecting real estate development and shifts in landownership; commercial infrastructure; population growth; interpersonal relations; and various patterns of social and cultural practices. This first book-length investigation of German/Swiss/Austrian activities in contemporary Kenya examines the interconnectedness of economic, cultural, social, and historical aspects of transnational migration and globalization, particularly those that manifest at the micro level in various dimensions of everyday life.