Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Cynthia Gorman

Committee Member

Jamie Shinn

Committee Member

Tamba M'bayo


Contemporary scholarly and journalistic literature consistently represents migration from and through The Gambia using the lens of “crisis”. While these representations normally focus on Gambian migration to European states – a movement that is highly politicized – this thesis presents a case study of Gambian migration to a less-politicized destination, North America, in order to explore the relationship between lived experiences and representations of migration absent the discourse of crisis that pervades other scholarly and journalistic works. Drawing on the mobilities paradigm, feminist geographies of migration, critical race theory, transnationalism, and literatures on bordering, humanitarianism and development, I examine, through a multi-sited case study, the experiences of Gambians who migrated to the U.S. and Canada, then compare them to the ways their experiences are represented in The Gambia. I then, through a discourse analysis, compare the relationship between lived experience and representation in the North American case study to the ways that Gambian migrants are portrayed by European actors in attempts to stem or stop migration flows. This thesis reveals that legal status intersects with class and race to impact upon migrants’ lived experiences in North America, the importance of geographic imaginaries as a form of representation in transnational communities, intimate impacts of North American bordering practices within transnational communities, and the use of discursive bordering practices to control and manage migrant flows in The Gambia.