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Accepted Paper:

Migration, compelling visions of the ‘good life’, and the struggle for alternatives in Cuban transnational mobilities  
Valerio Simoni (Geneva Graduate Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Cuban migrants’ attempts to refashion expected paths of transformation and future-making find resistance in compelling, ready-made notions of the ‘good life’. Such confrontation sheds light on the struggle between competing politics of self-fulfillment, responsibility, justice, and the commons.

Paper long abstract:

Migration is a powerful catalyst of hope in contemporary Cuba. Research among Cuban migrants in Europe and those who have recently returned to live on the island, highlights how dominant framings of migration exert an influential hold on people’s imagination, informing their mobility strategies and their efforts to become a certain kind of person and satisfy collective expectations. The presentation starts by considering how (ex)migrants are caught by and cling onto these forceful promises, and how they work on themselves and their transnational living conditions to realize them. My focus then shifts to their tentative, ambivalent attempts to refashion impracticable hopes and expectations, and to find cracks, openings, and build alliances that may enable them to formulate alternative scenarios of personal and collective transformation. I thus uncover how people draw on a multiplicity of imaginative resources and relationships to assemble and bricolage other possible futures, as well as the resistances and oppositions that stand on their way. The latter stem from powerful, ready-made notions and visions of what makes for a ‘good life’, whose differently situated, purposeful, politicized nature, and multi-scalar convergences and implications call for further exploration. I scrutinize the competing notions of self-fulfillment, responsibility, justice, and the commons that result from such conundrums and confrontations to shed light on the practical challenge and ethical dilemmas that arise when appealing scenarios of transformation become unrealizable, and the possibilities to imagine and create alternatives difficult to bring about.

Panel P085b
Prepackaged hopes and ready-made paths of transformation II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -