African students: Migrants like the others

Social selectivity of the visa and spatial (im)mobilities of Comorian and Togolese international students
By Hugo Bréant

Although political discourses emphasize the attractiveness of France and the reception conditions for foreign students, these students remain strangers like any others, progressively facing monitoring policies over their entry and stay in France. African students are at the forefront of this border closure, implemented from the consulates. This article proposes to reverse the perspective by observing not the production of these borders, but the perceptions and practices of the students who face them. Investigating students’ life courses—both those who have obtained their visa and those who have not—reveals the inequalities introduced by this political filter, which is very socially selective. Often confined by a student visa procedure, students develop different strategies to adapt to borders, or to bypass them, according to their social profile, their family history, and their individual and collective resources. This approach to public policies from below, and from its users, explains how the inextricable imbrication of borders, both political and social, reinforces the spatial immobility of some, but above all makes the mobility of others more complex.


  • international mobility
  • students
  • borders
  • visas
  • social inequalities
  • Comoros
  • Togo
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