Ethnographically zooming into lives in transit, we discuss why people stay or move, why they settle in, or stay detached from a place. We are interested in how they choose and decide, or let things happen, as well as in related dimensions of uncertainty/certainty and planning/spontaneity.
By transit migration scholars and policy-makers refer either to 'ongoing mobility' involving undocumented border crossing (Düvell 2006) or to a period of 'involuntary immobility' whereby migrants are stuck in a place despite wanting to move on (Carling 2002; Collyer, Düvell and De Haas 2010). Transit migrants are hence often described as people stranded in a place where they are held against their will. The dominant, structural deterministic discourse portrays transit migrants as agents stranded en route - lacking any power to decide about their state of im/mobility, incapable of negotiating their predicament. However, the decision-making power of transit migrants' hinges on several factors such as available information, resources at their disposal, luck and the degree of determination and interest to move on. By going beyond the narrative of transit migrants' victimhood and powerlessness, and by drawing on lived experiences of transit migrants from different parts of the world, the panel aims to examine how they build capacities through creative strategies while planning their mobility or coming to terms with (temporary) immobility. The panel discusses conditions of im/mobility and/or settlement of migrants and factors that affect their informed decision-making. The panel welcomes contributions exploring lived experiences of transit migrants from different parts of the globe in reference to how decisions are made at different moments of the migration process: starting from the preference of a specific transit point, the process of re/defining a destination country, to deciding the duration of transiting and the velocity of a travel.