Mobility: frictions and flows 
Michaela Benson (University of York)
Paolo S. H. Favero (University of Antwerp)
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Invited workshops
Thursday 28 August, 14:00-15:45, Friday 29 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

The term 'mobility' seems to have become a catchall phrase. In this panel we seek papers based on ethnographic research, which address how, if at all, mobility as a concept can be useful to us as anthropologists and seek further to question what mobility means on a theoretical level.

Long Abstract

Mobility' is often used as a metaphor for life in the contemporary world. It is, so most official accounts state, a major and beneficial resource for the planet. The term therefore implies, among others things, the movement of people, artefacts, notions and images, which demonstrates the true complexity of contemporary mobility. While mobility has positive connotations highlighting the possibilities of the mixing of cultures, for others, it holds negative connotations because of the challenges it presents to the fixity of locality and local culture. The banal use of the positive connotations associated with mobility may also mask negative experiences. It is therefore time to examine further the hidden power relations that are intrinsic to the term in particular contexts.

Despite the ubiquity of mobility in the world today, the significance that it has on a theoretical level has yet to be fully interrogated. In this panel, we particularly invite papers that address the correspondence between how mobility is used as a word and the particular social world that it relates to. This raises questions of how and whether mobility can be a useful concept for us as anthropologists? How do popular notions of and approaches to what counts as mobility overlap with our understandings of the term as academics? Addressing mobility from a theoretical perspective, we recognize that words operate as emblems and can signal the existence of particular ideologies, and welcome ethnographic papers which engage with a more theoretical discussion about what mobility means in the contemporary world.

Accepted papers: