Accepted Paper:

The social and transient time and space among Western expatriates  


Roger Norum (University of Oulu)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the ways in which the everyday spatial and temporal experiences of early-career Western expatriates produce various modes of group sociality.

Paper long abstract:

The spatial and temporal enclosures of transient actors reveal much about the social processes of being, becoming and belonging. Based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal, this paper explores how early-career expatriates experience liminal space and time. The experience of being always, already departing for somewhere else structures day-to-day life and often liberates them from the social and cultural norms, mores and strictures of 'home'. I consider the response to transience through the production of hypersociality - an urgent form of social interaction typified by rapidly formed, intensified social relation, extensive and frequent social obligation and ritual, and shared discourse of ephemeral social exchange. The paper also sheds light on the ways in which transient contexts contribute to risk, precarity and instability among groups commonly perceived as mobile, privileged, even elite. This is especially important to consider given the exponential growth of neoliberal employment structures (e.g. temporary fixed term contracts, secondments, etc.) which offer little long-term organisational job security or career stability.

Panel P048
Moving beyond the colonial? North-South mobility, power and post-colonial encounters [ANTHROMOB]