The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles
Faculty Bookwatch Publication
The Franklin Humanities Institute and Duke University Libraries hosted a Faculty Bookwatch panel on The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles (Duke University Press, 2019) on November 19, 2019. In this book, Duke anthropologist Charles Piot follows Kodjo Nicolas Batema, a visa broker—known as a “fixer”—in the West African nation of Togo as he helps his clients apply for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery program. Through detailed and compelling stories, The Fixer illustrates the desire and savviness of migrants as they work to find what they hope will be a better life.
- Moderator: Ranjana Khanna, Director, Franklin Humanities Institute; Professor of English, Literature, & Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
- Ian Baucom, Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
- Tsitsi Jaji, Associate Professor of English, Duke University
- Hans Lucht, Senior Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies
- Achille Mbembe, Professor, Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research
- Aïssatou Mbodj, Tenured Research Fellow, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut des mondes africains
- Henrik Vigh, Professor of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen
In the West African nation of Togo, applying for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery is a national obsession, with hundreds of thousands of Togolese entering each year. From the street frenzy of the lottery sign-up period and the scramble to raise money for the embassy interview to the gamesmanship of those adding spouses and dependents to their dossiers, the application process is complicated, expensive, and unpredictable. In The Fixer Charles Piot follows Kodjo Nicolas Batema, a Togolese visa broker—known as a “fixer”—as he shepherds his clients through the application and interview process. Relaying the experiences of the fixer, his clients, and embassy officials, Piot captures the ever-evolving cat-and-mouse game between the embassy and the hopeful Togolese as well as the disappointments and successes of lottery winners in the United States. These detailed and compelling stories uniquely illustrate the desire and savviness of migrants as they work to find what they hope will be a better life.