Building on recent work in the anthropology of silence that recognizes that silences are multivocal and actively present in social life, this panel explores theoretical, methodological and ethical questions relating to the roles of silences in experiences of movement and migration.
In recent years, the anthropology of silence has begun to address a range of questions that recognize silences as presences rather than absences in social life (e.g., Kidron 2009). Silences may be the result of hauntings that signal experiences too dangerous or painful to articulate. They may also be strategic, respectful, and culturally valued. Recognizing that silences are multivocal and actively present in social life, in this panel we explore theoretical, methodological and ethical questions relating to the roles of silences in experiences of movement and migration - including experiences of emigration/immigration, forced displacement and evacuation, rural/urban movement, marriage mobility and temporary labor migration. In what ways can silences be political? What are the affective forces of silence? When and how might migrants' silences be a form of agency? At the limits of narrative, how might migrants find other ways to articulate shared and personal elements of experiences of movement - for example, through music, art, embodied gestures, or rituals? What kind of silences may be heard within "a story of departures without homecoming" (Steedly 2013), and what different ways of listening may anthropologists need in order to attend to such silences? What are the ethical implications of anthropologists' attempts to "salvage silence from disappearance" (Weller 2017), and how might anthropologists manage the dangers and limits of knowing and writing in a politically sensitive field? We invite contributions that combine ethnography and theory, and that aim to expand the anthropological understanding of the unspeakable and unspoken.