Good Guys, Mad City: Etiquettes of Migration Among Sudanese Men in Beirut
Keywords:Lebanon, Sudan, masculinity, labor, affect, ethics, crisis
This article explores the relationship between labor precarity, masculinity, and striving among generations of Sudanese male migrant workers in Beirut. Based on fieldwork conducted between 2019 and 2020 with intergenerational, multiethnic Sudanese migrant communities in Beirut and with male migrant returnees in Khartoum, I argue that Sudanese male migrant workers navigate the structures that condition them as precarious labor in Lebanon by forming networks of care and interdependency. How are they gendered through these relations of livelihood and co-survival? I explore how Sudanese male migrants conduct themselves through ideals of masculine propriety and labor discipline in their striving for an ethically and materially sustainable life achieved through marriage and eventual return. Yet in the current context of revolution and accumulating economic crises in Lebanon as well as in Sudan, these goals are foreclosed for young migrants who are caught in a spiral of unemployment and debt. In conversation with migrants who struggle to balance their aspirations of living with the present challenges of surviving, I explore how crisis restructures their relations of codependency, attachments to home, and aspirations for the good life at the end of migration.
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