West African strangers and the politics of inhumanity in Angola

by PAOLO GAIBAZZI

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Since 2002, Angola has increasingly resorted to illegalization, deportation, and predatory policing to manage immigration. The resulting abuses lead Muslim West African migrants, especially those from the Mande ethnolinguistic area, to denounce Angola's lack of “humanity.” Their takes on inhumanity cannot be sufficiently explained by either conventional understandings of human rights or biopolitical theories of legal exclusion and bare life. Instead, Mande notions of hospitality, empathy, and the “human right” to survival enable migrants to navigate Angola's regimes of clientelism. Inhumanity results from the state's repression and predation, which prevent migrants from negotiating with their “hosts” on affective‐ethical grounds rather than solely on legal ones. Departing from Western Enlightenment, Mande humanism provides an alternative perspective from the South for analyzing how life and politics connect.