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Accepted Paper:

On the Amassed Dispossessions of Forced Migration: Conditions and Consequences  


Friedemann Yi-Neumann (University of Goettingen)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I argue that not only can stuff be amassed but also deprivations. I will delineate how accumulated dispossessions frame people's capabilities to act, result in social exclusions yet too how they urge and incite new tactics and ways of living.

Paper long abstract:

Migration anthropologists, from a material culture perspective, have unearthed the relevance of the materialities that people keep, bring along, and consume (Levin, 2019; Dudley, 2010; Basu & Coleman 2008). In this paper, I will broaden these perspectives on things by drawing on works about the immaterial (Bille, Hastrup & Sørensen, 2010; Buchli 2016). The focal point is the sheer amount of discarded and lost items of individuals who were forced to leave their homes.

As people move away from devastated places, they leave tons of debris of their former properties behind. As one crosses borders without paper, it might be necessary to leave further personal items behind. As people are kept in protracted limbos by border regimes, this regularly causes a series of material and temporal dispossessions (Hicks & Mallet, 2019; Khosravi, 2018).

By reconstituting 'critical events' (Das 1997) as well as by drawing on the concept of hexis (Hage, 2013) the im-/material entanglements and furthermore the long-term effects of cumulative loss can be unearthed. Such a perspective enables anthropologists to understand how references to absent, destroyed, missing, and yet co-present belongings 'take place.' By drawing on ethnographic case studies, I seek to show how accumulated dispossessions impact people's everyday life and biographies, respective of the settings and intersections of dearth. These circumstances do not only hamper capabilities to act, but they can also prompt creative appropriations and lead people to establish broad networks in situations of a shortage of means (see Kiddey, 2017).

Panel P105
The Materiality of Migration: From 'bare necessities' to 'promising things' [ANTHROMOB]