Paris’s Gare du Nord is one of the busiest international transit centres in the world. In the past three decades, it has become an important hub for West African migrants – self-fashioned adventurers – navigating life in the city. In her ground-breaking new book, Julie Kleinman chronicles how West Africans use the Gare du Nord to create economic opportunities, confront police harassment, and forge connections to people outside of their communities. Drawing on ten years of ethnographic research, including an internship at the French national railway company, Kleinman reveals how racial inequality is ingrained in the order of Parisian public space. She vividly describes the extraordinary ways that African migrants retool French transit infrastructure to build alternative pathways toward social and economic integration where state institutions have failed. In doing so, these adventurers defy boundaries – between migrant and citizen, centre and periphery, neighbour and stranger – that have shaped urban planning and immigration policy. Adventure Capital offers a new understanding of contemporary migration and belonging, capturing the central role that West African migrants play in revitalizing French urban life.
Julie Kleinman is an urban anthropologist working on migration in France and in West Africa. She is assistant professor of anthropology at Fordham University in New York, and has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the Hutchins Centre at Harvard University. Her work has appeared in City & Society, JRAI, Transition, and Ethnologie Française, and she is currently working on a project on migrant rights activism and new forms of pan-African belonging in Bamako.