'smart loving in constrained environments' Paper at LOVA Conference. Ethnographies of Gender and Mobility, VU Amsterdam. July 5-7 2017


"Smart" loving in constrained environments: Negotiating social and economic mobility in urban Sierra Leone


While movement has been explored largely in connection with migration, moving through life, manoeuvring its flow and negotiating possibilities for stirring its course features heavily in Young people’s lives in Sierra Leone.

Through accompanying members of the ‘Eat as You Can’ social club in Freetown in their day-to-day lives, this paper focuses on love relationships and explores the interconnection between material, cultural and social conditions and daily romantic struggles. It explores what gendered experiences are ‘doing’ in urban lives of young people in Sierra Leone today and highlights how relationships are used by young women and men to negotiate opportunities for social and economic mobility in an environment largely perceived as rigid, stagnating and hard to manoeuvre. It discusses sociality and intimacy related to emerging notions of love and choice in post War and post pandemic Sierra Leone and explores how they feed off the appropriation of global goods, technologies and ideas of ‘loving and are employed in people’s struggles for selfdetermination in constrained environments. The research examines questions of uncertainty and insecurity, and of people’s coping strategies in the context of generational tensions and improvised modes of urban sociality.


4th International LOVA Conference 2017 "Ethnographies of Gender and Mobility". July 5-7. VU Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Organised by VU Amsterdam

link to LOVA homepage.

Panel reference: Panel 5, Thursday July 6, 2017 11.45am - 1.00pm.

Panel Title: Miration and sex work.