Category: IMISCOE Research Series
Publisher: Springer
Library: IMISCOE Research Series
Year: 2018


This open access book offers new insights into the ageing-migration nexus and the nature of home. Documenting the hidden world of France’s migrant worker hostels, it explores why older North and West African men continue to live past retirement age in this sub-standard housing. Conventional wisdom holds that at retirement labour migrants ought to instead return to their families in home countries, where their French pensions would have far greater purchasing power.

This paradox is the point of departure for a book which transports readers from the banlieues of Paris to the banks of the Senegal River and  the villages of the Anti-Atlas. In intimate ethnographic detail, the author brings to life the experiences of these older labour migrants by sharing in the life of the hostels as a resident, by observing at close quarters the men's family life on the other side of the Mediterranean as a guest in their homes, and even by accompanying them in their travels by bus, sea, and air. 

The monograph evaluates several theories of migration against rich qualitative data gathered from multiple methods: biographical narrative and semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and archival research. In the process, it offers a thoughtful contribution to broader debates on what it means for migrants to belong and achieve inclusion in society.  

Awarded an ‘honourable mention’ in the Khayrallah Prize in Migration Studies


  1. Journey’s End? Old Age in France’s Migrant Worker Hostels
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 1-28

  2. Points of Departure: Geographical, Historical and Theoretical Contexts
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 29-59
  3. Your Papers, Please: The Temporal and Territorial Demands of Welfare State Inclusion
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 61-81

  4. Home/Sick: The Health–Migration Order
    Hunter, Alistair 
    Pages 83-104

  5. Return to Sender: Remittances, Communication and Family Conflict
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 105-127

  6. Getting One’s Bearings: Re-integration in the Home Community
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 129-155

  7. Loss of Autonomy, Dying and the Penultimate Voyage
    Hunter, Alistair
    Pages 157-178

  8. Conclusion: The Returns from Theory and a New Approach to Home
    Hunter, Alistair


  • First major work in English on France’s migrant worker hostels, a massive state-led housing policy for migrant workers
  • This book has been nominated for the 2019 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize
  • Presents an innovative methodology that combines multi-sited and in-transit ethnography spanning France, Morocco and Senegal
  • Challenges existing theories of migration based respectively on economic costs/benefits and the location of family members


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