CFP – Im/mobilities and boundaries: an ethnographical approach

Call for submissions for an edited volume Im/mobilities and boundaries: an ethnographical approach International Doctoral Programme “Transformations in European Societies”Sabina Leoncini, Julia Schwarz, Andreas Hackl, Miriam Gutekunst Mobility has emerged as a central element in contemporary understanding of modernity and change. The objective of this edited volume is to demonstrate that immobility is a structural […]

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Call for submissions for an edited volume

Im/mobilities and boundaries: an ethnographical approach

International Doctoral Programme “Transformations in European Societies”
Sabina Leoncini, Julia Schwarz, Andreas Hackl, Miriam Gutekunst

Mobility has emerged as a central element in contemporary understanding of modernity and change. The objective of this edited volume is to demonstrate that immobility is a structural phenomenon characteristic of different border regimes and equally critical to contemporary insight. Many attempts to understand current transformations through the lens of mobility have often been blind to the idealistic notion of a “mobility paradigm”. The norm of mobility creates social constraints and global hierarchies. While a part of the global population seems to increasingly live in a borderless world, for many exclusion and immobilization continue to operate, separate and marginalize. A situation that is often viewed as liberating and beneficial could actually be, in a global context, unequal and subject to hegemony. In a border regime power and social differentiations are implemented so that people who lack the freedom to move are both economically and socially disadvantaged.

We seek to analyze mobility through its opposite: immobility. Moreover, we would like to discover the fluid interconnections between the two, thus speaking of im/mobility as describing two simultaneous aspects of the same thing. Evidently, there are power structures behind mobility: We can observe that, particularly in times of hypermobility, boundaries are created, modified and consolidated. These boundaries may have a physical dimension, like a fence or a wall, but they always exist on multiple levels: Boundaries are cultural phenomena with a “social character”. They are not just demarcation lines but rather border zones which denote specific dynamics, rules and cultures that are becoming particularly powerful and visible for people in transition from one place to another, from one job to another, from one identity to another. Boundaries are negotiated, crossed, experienced and modified. At the same time we have to be aware of the risk of a new division developing in the world: a divide between people with freedom of mobility and those without. Mobility can often be the key to crossing boundaries.

Mobility has become a key metaphor for physical movement. However, one of our fundamental assumptions is that the analytical relevance of this concept goes far beyond such a narrow view. Therefore, we would like to scrutinize the contemporary theory on mobilities from a critical ethnographic perspective, shedding light on the many fields of modern life where (im)mobility operates as a sociocultural phenomenon: mobility in virtual space or in the financial market; in (forced) migration, tourism and multi-localities; the role of imaginaries of (im)mobility and the relationship between mobility and immobility; mobility in differentiated urban space or between urban and non-urban space; the relationship between mobility, power, space and time; and much more. In this publication we would like to broach these questions:

– Can mobility be an empowering strategy?
– Is mobility as a sociocultural construct always accompanied by forms of immobility, thereby carrying an implicit notion of inequality?
– Are mobility and immobility two sides of the same coin?
– How are boundaries negotiated in everyday life?
– How do people experiencing im/mobility cope with boundaries (in terms of identity, belonging and differing) and borders in different contexts of space?
– Where and how do apparently invisible boundaries get materialized?
– And how does the in/visibility of a boundary influence the im/mobility of a person?
– In what contexts of space, power, economics, politics, geography, and education are people able to discover the potential for mobility and cross boundaries?
– What role do identity and citizenship play in this context?
– With which kind of “mobilization strategies” do people overcome boundaries?

The language of the publication will be English. If you are interested in joining our project, please send to sabinaleoncini@virgilio.it or to miriam.gutekunst@gmx.de a short abstract of around 300 words and an autobiographical note before 15 April 2014.

Every abstract should put forward a very specific and innovative analytical argument on im/mobility, either addressing one of the key areas of interest mentioned above, or any others as long as they are directly relevant to this Call for Papers. We expect every contribution to be grounded in ethnographic fieldwork. Therefore, the relationship between theory, analysis and ethnography should be made clear in the submitted abstract.

Discussions concerning a prominent publisher have been started, we’ll let you know later on which will be our publishing house.

The deadline for the submission of the full article is September 2014.

 

Social anthropologist and journalist with a focus on urban issues, displacement and mobility in the Middle East.


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