Migration's desire: uncovering the global imaginaries and subjectivitites of (im)mobility

Valerio Simoni (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)
Francesco Vacchiano (ICS-UL, Lisbon)
Room 11
Start time:
14 April, 2015 at 9:15
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel addresses the moralities, aspirations and claims of belonging that underpin migratory aspirations and trajectories, exploring the global imaginaries, subjective orientations, and power dimensions of (im)mobility, and considering the ethnographic demands they place on anthropologists.

Long abstract:

In recent years, mobility has taken on a new centrality in the way people from across the world voice their personal and collective expectations. Doing anthropology today means to increasingly meet this relatively new and generalized "desire of elsewhere" through which hopes of success and search for opportunities are expressed. Whereas local conditions remain essential to understand the widespread wish to leave, these same conditions are increasingly measured against the standards of a paradigmatic "global form of life", one moulded upon a series of hegemonic models shaping the benchmarks of well-being and happiness on a wide-reaching scale, and which challenges the anthropologist's longstanding fascination with difference. The impact of these models and their role in forging contemporary "expectations of modernity" raises questions about how contemporary forms of power and global imaginaries produce aspirations for change, as expressed, for instance, in the longing for freedom from traditional obligations and claims for membership in a global society (Ferguson 2006; Piot 2010). The panel welcomes contributions that address the moralities, aspirations and claims of belonging underpinning people's migratory aspirations and trajectories. The aim is to explore mobility's entanglements with global images, local values and personal expectations, and to examine how the motivations associated with movement reinforce or subvert hegemonic constructions of power, subjectivity, and inequality in the contemporary world, (re)drawing lines of commonality and exclusion. This, in turn, will help us consider the kinds of theoretical commensalities and methodological mutualisms that people's desires to move- as ethnographic demands placed on anthropologists - call for.