Accepted Paper:

Those who do not move: immobility as a category of analysis  

Author:

Diana Mata Codesal (Pompeu Fabra University)

Paper short abstract:

By incorporating those who stay put in the study of human mobility anthropologists can complicate established ideas of the role of the left behind and show how in fact mobility and immobility are two mutually constituent states.

Paper long abstract:

This paper introduces the category of the staying put in order to think about moving people. By incorporating those who stay put in the study of human mobility anthropologists can complicate established ideas of the role of the left behind and show how in fact mobility and immobility are two states mutually constituent. The sedentary logic underlying much of the production of the Western Social Sciences (Malkki, 1992: 31) explains why staying put within the borders of one's own birth country has been constructed as the 'natural' situation that needs no explanation. Non-migrants are not a topic of study because under the logic of the modern nation-state it is mobility what is constructed as a dangerous threat to the national order (Glick Schiller and Salazar, 2013: 184). Migration is the anomaly which could destabilize national identities. Immobility thus becomes implicitly constructed as normal and necessary for political and personal security. However, staying put needs to be explicitly incorporated into our understanding of human mobility.

Looking at the underlying reasons, motivations and barriers to stay put shows how immobility is a category as complex as mobility. The paper is particularly interested in the interactions between mobility and immobility. Families with migrant and non-migrant members are imbued with and crossed by changing mobility-immobility dynamics. This paper opens up such dynamics in order to facilitate readings of local socio-cultural logics where mobility and immobility are infused with specific meanings while placing them within global regimes of (im)mobility.

Panel P069
Moving people: anthropologists adopting, interrogating and refuting governmental categorisations (ANTHROMOB)