Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
With recent dramatic human movements across and into Europe as a point of departure, this session explores present as well as past and future imaginaries of migration and mobility in European contexts. Responding to theoretical debate in the 1980s, an anthropology of migration was formulated in relation to issues such as political economy, social agency, postcolonialism, and ideology. Soon ideas on globalization, transnationalism, citizenship as well as multiculturalism were added. As a matter of course, questions of culture and gender were identified early by anthropologists of migration, and continue to be researched as these questions keep reappearing in new ways. The heated debate on the veil in some European countries is but one example of this, which also shows the role of emotions in migration imaginaries. People moving in and to Europe range from refugees to mobile professionals to pilgrims. Various vocabularies are deployed to describe them: asylum-seekers, migrants, immigrants, emigrants, sojourners, expats, tourists, and settlers.
In the spirit of the AAA 2018 conference theme, the session looks at change in the anthropological imagination of migration from a number of vantage points and societal levels (regional, national, supranational, and postnational). How has ethnographic research on migration in Europe affected the anthropological imagination? How can studies of European mobility help shape future directions for migration and mobility studies in our discipline? How do discourses of mobility among anthropologists and migrants themsleves inform new understandings of time, space, and diversity? What can different forms of cultural expression regarding migration and mobility – such as everyday narratives, ethnographic writing, fiction, policy documents, and media accounts -- tell us about lived experiences and the political and economic forces shaping them? Key in this are infrastructures for the management of migration and diversity at the level of the nation-state and the European Union that evoke both resistance and adaptation.
One of the lines of inquiry for the session is emplacement. Brettell and Reed-Danahay (2012) argue that emplacement is connected to a sense of belonging. As Malkki (1995) has pointed out with respect to refugee studies, discussion of displacement should be paired with attention to modes of emplacement. Narayan (2002) views emplacement as a matter of imagination, entailing ”the orienting of the self within multiple frameworks of meaning.” As to the session’s focus on imaginaries, it is interesting to note that Salazar (2016) defines the mobility turn in social theory as capturing ”a complex assemblage of movement, imaginaries, and experience.” At the same time, how is the opposite of mobility imagined – as emplacement, belonging, immobility, mooring? Temporality is another key theme. Classic concerns with time and space in the anthropological imagination may be renewed through reflections upon changing ways of narrating and writing about mobility, changing landscapes (political, social, physical) and mobility regimes, and generational shifts. The panel likewise considers the tempo of movement, as a form of social control (waiting, being hurried) or social agency (slowing down, being patient).