The Gambia river valley has been experiencing international emigration for several generations. In many areas of the country, such as the Soninke villages analyzed in this article, migration has had a significant social and economic impact. Young people, especially among the men, grow up in a migratory environment and often dream of reaching their relatives and friends abroad in the near future. However, paying attention to the desires of migration means also taking into account other, wide-ranging imaginative processes of far-away places and cultural worlds. Both material and immaterial resources from abroad are brought back to Gambia and contribute to the construction of social reality, in which the ‘there’ constitutes a dimension of the ‘here’. Thinking about other places and about being elsewhere thus assumes different meanings in the everyday life of young Gambians, shaping not only their migratory projects, but also the cultural practices and personal narratives through which they try to give form and meaning to their existence at ‘home’. This article highlights these multiple ‘local’ aspects of the geo-social imagination in the life Gambian young men.
Keywords: Gambia, Soninke, youth, imagination, migration