Mobility, power and possibility: the search for liveable lives [ANTHROMOB]

Samuli Schielke (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO))
Alice Elliot (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Paolo Gaibazzi (Zentrum Moderner Orient-Berlin)
Ghassan Hage (University of Melbourne)
Start time:
20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Though life is increasingly imagined in terms of mobility, movement remains deeply shaped by different forms of political, divine, social powers. How do people reckon with the multiple powers implicated in their search for liveable lives? Which forces make life in movement possible - or impossible?

Long abstract:

A heightened sense of physical, ideological, social, and virtual movement permeates the contemporary age of global capitalism. The very possibility of living a good, or simply liveable, life has increasingly become dependent on aspirational projects imagined in terms of mobility and immobility. The current politics of mobility has, in turn, become a key way of governing life - and death. Mobility and immobility thus provide a fertile ground for reflecting on the classic anthropological question of power as constitutive of human existence. Political economies of mobility are deeply linked with those structuring powers that make us human - as has been highlighted by generations of anthropologists: kinship, gender and moral relations, the transcendent power of God and gods. The sense of possibility that fosters the search for a good life is structured by powers that are experienced as enabling sometimes, and limiting, even lethal at other times. This panel invites contributions that address the multiple powers intersecting people's physical and existential mobility. How do people understand, submit, invoke or tame greater powers in their search for liveable lives? Which tangible and intangible powers permeate the moral, economic, social and religious imaginative horizons towards which humans gear their movement? What does it mean to have power over one's condition? Finally, the panel invites ethnographic and theoretical reflections on the question of consequences: how do pursuits and paths of movement and stasis in turn recast relations of power that inform shifting horizons of possibility?