Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Population politics are alive and well across Europe and beyond. From Italy to Poland, the “crisis of presence” (Krause 2018) provoked by the racialized figure of the new immigrant collides with resurgent pronatalist efforts to coax reproduction of the “right” kind of nation. Governments from Switzerland to Serbia have devised schemes to reverse the depopulation of villages. Meanwhile, the emigration of “young talent” from the continent’s semi-periphery is cast as a problem to be solved by youth themselves through assuming the risks of entrepreneurship. Yet research on these phenomena tends to remain in narrowly construed subfields. The politics of migration management, the material manifestations of freshly delineated borders, and the overdetermined figure of the vulnerable refugee pitted against the unsympathetic “economic migrant” are all mutually constituting dimensions of global movements that beg to be brought into closer dialogue. Mirroring these fields, the social and economic politics of “maternity capital” and other incentives to bear children, renewed attempts to outlaw abortion, and the proliferation of public fertility campaigns reveal parallel assertions of state power over the life projects of its citizens. That similar dynamics are to be found in disparate locales and at disparate scales—such as with efforts to resettle refugees in Detroit, Michigan—calls for further nuancing our approach to population politics. This panel brings together scholars working on the interlocking concerns of demographic panic that casts the nation-state in crisis and its citizens as prone to heightened “existential melancholy” (Krastev 2017:50). Engaging with the conference theme, presenters home in on the “forms, scales, and tempos” of global dynamics of demographic panic. How do people resist or adapt to but also subvert and confound efforts to control their movement and shape their futures in the national interest? How are meanings of belonging and citizenship reworked in the process? How are ideas of a “normal” life course folded in? Finally, can we elucidate shared logics through a comparative perspective without losing the historical and cultural specificity of lived experience? This panel will highlight the contribution of ethnography to debates over both individual and collective futures and the theoretical insights to be exchanged between those working on the multiple dimensions of population politics.