Elieth Eyebiyi

Paris IAS
Social Anthropology
10 months

Research interests: Informality and Urbanity, Mobility and Migration, Risks and Inequality, Governance and Development, Global South

Research Project

The economies of informality: fuel smuggling, risks and urbanity in West Africa

This research project questions the urban production of informality in West Africa. Existing scientific and policy discourses tend to reduce informality to the informal sector, to the sphere of capitalist labour and often adopts a legal-legal vision. The project aims to challenge this frame of analysis. Thus, he shows how informality, on the one hand, transcends the economic perspective of the informal sector, reinstates social relations in local economic functioning and influences national scales. On the other hand, it includes the marginalized and actors without social protection in the economic fabric at urban spaces. Following marginalized people involved in fuel smuggling, he investigates the social relations, risks management in uncertainty context, the daily life of informality’s production from margins and how it influences the formal economy in new urban spaces.

Based on long term empirical fieldworks, this interdisciplinary work deconstructs the normative aspects of informality by voicing poor and stakeholders embedded in the resourcefulness business, legally prohibited but socially tolerated. He reintegrates the urbanity aspects in this analysis in order to understand deeply the new socio spatial dynamics occurring around inequality, and risk management around fuel smuggling in the economies of borderlands urban cities in West Africa.


Elieth Eyebiyi currently serves as researcher at DHI CREPOS Senegal on a transnational program working on bureaucratisation and is attached to LASDEL Benin/Niger. He holds PhDs in Sociology anthropology (Benin) and in Urban Studies (Canada) and teaches Migration is associate professor in Migration and development, as well as in qualitative methodology. His works examines Informality at borderlands in the frame of the nexus between governance, mobility and development issues in West Africa. He has held fellowships from the IAS Princeton, Swedish Collegium, EHESS, Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study and The University of Edinburgh