Accepted Paper:

Immobility, mobility, imaginations: sub-Saharan migrants' journeys in Libya  
Marthe Achtnich (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the lived experiences of sub-Saharan migrants moving to and through Libya, this paper argues that attending to the complex dynamics between mobility and immobility on unauthorised journeys is vital to understanding forces connecting people's mobility experiences and imaginations.

Paper long abstract:

Focusing on the lived mobility experiences of sub-Saharan migrants in Libya, this paper examines the complex relationship between mobility and immobility on unauthorised journeys and its bearings upon migrants' mobility imaginations. The label of 'crisis', often linked to the migration situation in Libya and the Mediterranean, tends to impose a linear understanding of movement and to fixate migrants as static legal-political bodies aiming for Europe. Through a multi-sited ethnography of migrants' unauthorised journeys through the Sahara desert and Libya by boat to Europe, the paper shows that migrants' mobilities are far from linear, reconfiguring typologized understandings of migrants as legal/illegal, forced/voluntary, refugee and asylum seeker in non-binary and fluid ways. I highlight how spaces of immobility in Libya, shaped by different criminal and state actors and the payment of money to move on, characterise migrants' journeys and imaginations of movement: informal confinement, imprisonment in government-run detention centres, waiting in private houses and imagining better futures. The paper concludes by arguing that a focus on the dynamics between mobility and immobility, and taking journeys seriously as a topic of anthropological study, is vital to understanding forces connecting people's mobility experiences and the imaginations motivating them.

Panel Time01
Imagination, migration & (im)mobility