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The panel aims to bring together the findings of studies of the material dimensions of (forced) migration in different settings around the world. As part of an ongoing research project (at University of Göttingen)we are striving for international collaboration and exchange.
Materiality is a fundamental dimension of migration which has only recently made its way into the scope of migration research. In this panel, by exploring the material dimension of human existence, we want to contribute to a better understanding of the phenomena of flight and migration. At the center of enquiry is the thesis that the value of protecting life and human dignity is inextricably linked to things. Things are connected to ascriptions of status and identity, as well as personal aspirations and emotions. During journeys of migration, people take things with them, or they lose or find things along the way. Journeys themselves are framed by objects like borders, passports, tents and other camp infrastructures, boats, and not least mobile phones. For people on the move, some of these things can arouse memories, some are linked with powerlessness or loss, some with hopes and aspirations, while other things lose their relevance along the way. We invite papers concerning the following questions: •What is the function of things in the context of flight and states of exception? •What promises do things carry, which emotions, which aspirations? •How are things related to identity? •Can new things create new identities? •Which things are legitimized for people in a state of exception. Which are considered illegitimate? •Which things determine the status of an asylum seeker as a vulnerable person? •What do material possessions say about living a dignified life?