The papers in this panel disentangle how achievement-through-mobility is ideologically constituted across cultures and which mechanisms and institutional regimes ensure its transmission and self-perpetuation. The focus is on the dialectic between culture and boundary-crossing mobility patterns.
Although humans have always been on the move, discourses of globalization and metaphors of 'flow' have conjured up images of unfettered movement. Partly influenced by neoliberal and free market ideologies, transnational mobility has become one of the most powerful stratifying factors, leading to a global hierarchy of movements. Purposeful border-crossing mobilities, usually of the temporary kind, are widely accepted as a desirable and even normative path (as 'rites of passage') towards success: career achievement through educational exchange and work experience abroad, and well-being or quality of life achievement through international tourism and lifestyle migration. Across the globe, such forms of geographical movement are made meaningful by being variously linked with the accumulation of economic (resources), social (status) or cultural (cosmopolitanism) capital. As more people cross borders, nation-states attempt to maintain authority over the meaning of their movements. An all too exclusive focus on the most mobile people alone conceals the wider effects that dominant ideas of (im)mobility and transnational networks have on societies and their cultural fabric as a whole. The papers in this panel ethnographically address the following questions: How is achievement-through-mobility ideologically constituted across cultures and which mechanisms and institutional regimes ensure its transmission and self-perpetuation? How do people experience, understand and negotiate positively valued transnational mobilities? How much are people aware of the ways that culture influences boundary-crossing mobility patterns? And, turning the question around, what is the role of transnational mobilities in the constitution of culture(s) and cultural heritage?