A new virtue? Imaginaries and regimes of mobility across the globe

Noel B. Salazar (KU Leuven)
Pál Nyiri (Vrije Universiteit)
Noel B. Salazar
(1) Ulf Hannerz, (2) Roos Willems, (3) Nina Glick Schiller
Auxilia AX1
Start time:
26 August, 2010 at 16:30
Session slots:


It is fashionable to imagine the world in motion, with people, objects and ideas traveling worldwide. Mobility is celebrated not just by literati elites but also by governments, including those that have until recently restricted it. Yet the same states are raising the barriers of certain kinds of mobility ever higher. Anthropologists were among the first to point out that not all mobilities are valued equally positively and that the very processes that produce global mobilities also result in immobility and exclusion. Drawing on a thematically and geographically diverse set of ethnographic studies, this panel discusses and compares how various forms of border-crossing human (im)mobilities are discursively framed as a virtue or vice in societies and cultures across the globe, both today and in a historical perspective. Individual papers advance anthropological takes on the so-called "mobility turn" in the social sciences by giving ethnographically-informed answers on the following questions: Which forms of translocal mobility are currently desirable (whether they are accessible or not) and to whom, and how does the current situation compare to the past? Which socio-cultural meanings and values are given to these mobilities and by whom? What is the analytical purchase of (im)mobility as an overarching conceptual framework to study and understand the current human condition? Is mobility a better concept-metaphor to understand the contemporary world than sedentarity? Why is mobility (not) the next grand narrative in anthropology or the social sciences at large? Contributions on "newly mobile" societies (e.g. China, Russia and India) are particularly welcome.