212pp., illus., paperback, Durham, 2019
In Togo, hundreds of thousands of people apply for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery each year. Charles Piot follows Kodjo Nicolas Batema, a Togolese visa broker, or 'fixer', as he takes his clients through the complicated, expensive, and unpredictable application and interview process.
“The U.S. visa lottery program has been called ‘the planet's most popular game of chance.’ In this utterly riveting book, Charles Piot, among the finest Africanist scholars of our day, takes us - along with consummate ‘fixer,’ the lottery broker Kodjo Nicolas Batema - on an extraordinary journey into the business of dreams, following those seeking a path to America. Along the way, they not only make new lives, they also fashion an organic ‘theory from the South’ about the workings of the contemporary world order. Laced with humor, irony, disappointment, and hope, The Fixer is a truly terrific accomplishment.” John Comaroff, co-author of The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order
"Extremely well written, The Fixer is a must-read for those striving for a more equitable world: their advocacy efforts around global mobility and migration cannot be understood divorced from global inequalities. The Fixer would be a great read for general readers, migration experts, policymakers, folks involved in advocacy for immigrants and displaced people, and students of immigration and transnational studies, as well as in courses on the challenges and ethics of ethnographic field research. Just a gentle warning — once you start the book, it is hard to put down." Faranak Miraftab, International Migration Review
Charles Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Duke University He is editor of Doing Development in West Africa: a reader by and for undergraduates and author of Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War.