This panel seeks to illuminate the ways in which spatial mobility shapes people's future aspirations to offer new perspectives on social mobility and people's subjective feelings of belonging.
Spatial mobility increasingly structures people's lives. This may be in response to the scarcity of land resulting from demographic changes, ethnicized conflicts, economic transformations, the intervention of NGOs, and the changing images of the "good life" which urge people to consider alternative income-generating opportunities in urban centers as industrial and white-collar workers. Migration also responds to changing aspirations that may be driven by a desire for a better education and professional employment. Rural-urban migration and transnational migration thus provide new options and link spatial and social mobility in suggestive ways. However, the loss of land, decreasing access to natural resources in parts of South Asia, and a fragile labor market that inhibits the realization of aspirations often can result in downward mobility. In either case, shifts in social status produce new conditions for individual and collective positioning in social and economic terms and may even foster the emergence of new figurations of belonging. This panel will address the following questions: What motivates people's aspirations to migrate; which destinations are chosen and why? What is the role of state practices and policies in these processes? Which new forms of work characterize the contemporary moment and how do they affect social inequalities? Does educational mobility offer new options for ensuring social and economic security? Do experiences of mobility (immigration and emigration) affect existing feelings of belonging? Does mobility produce new figurations of belonging?