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
Secondary Theme: Resistance
Fear of migrants and refugees is linked to an emergent politics of state retrenchment and enclosure marked by border militarization, racialized nationalism, exclusionary immigration law and policy, and violence against people who seek to cross the sociospatial boundaries they create. These trends mirror state withdrawal from global governance of trade and finance, environmental regulation, and human rights agreements. At the same time, the forces compelling people to move – poverty, exclusion, violence and oppression – are as powerful as ever. People who cross national borders find themselves at the intersection of forces of mobility and immobility, at once subject to state projects to demobilize and systems of compulsory mobility that force people to migrate, flee, or be deported. In this era of global expulsions (Saskia Sassen) and walled states (Wendy Brown), mobile people navigate the contradictory forces impelling movement and state attempts to immobilize by using mobility as a means of survival and a tool of resistance. The centrality of spatial control to state power inevitably produces spatialized forms of resistance as people evade, subvert, and resist through attempts at autonomous movement, individual and collective. Thus movement, both physical and political (movements for movement), becomes central to understanding power, inequality, and the changing social worlds they produce.
This panel examines the experiences of mobile people as they confront forced mobility and imposed immobilization. The papers discuss mass deportation and its effects on families in the U.S., the struggles of undocumented students pursuing education, the violence visited upon Central American migrants as they transit Mexico and the U.S., and the ways indigenous migrants use language as a form of resistance. What emerges through these ethnographic projects is a conversation about mobility, power, and the agency of mobile people facing state violence.