Accepted paper:

Crossing categorical boundaries and anticipatory knowledge

Authors:

Andrea Behrends (Free University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

On the Chadian border to Darfur, people use and frequently cross international categories like "refugee", "internally displaced", "local", "rebel". This paper argues that by using such labels, people display their anticipatory knowledge about what is behind categories and what each category affords.

Paper long abstract:

Since the Darfur War that started in 2003, more than 200.000 people continue to live in various refugee camps in the wider border region. During my long term research in the Darfur-Chad borderlands (2000-2014), international staff of humanitarian organisations have often remarked that: "All people here seem to be the same, same dress, same language and they all seem to know each other. In which way do they differ?" Taking up this question leads to the interesting observation, already noted by Fredrik Barth (1967), that people in this region have often crossed boundaries between different groups, geographical areas, occupations, or languages. Indeed, many people living in this area today differentiate between "refugees" and "locals", "internally displaced" or even "vulnerables" up to "person living in bloc C of camp XY". Certainly, particular claims can be attached to each respective status. But more importantly, none of the categories are as fixed as they seem. People can be "refugees", but still successful in business. They can be "internally displaced", but work their fields during farming season. Thus, this paper argues that the people of the borderlands, by using internationally attributed categories, display their anticipatory knowledge about what is behind categories and what each category affords.

panel P045
Tracing eligibilities: moralities, performances, practices (EASA Network for Anthropology of Law and Rights)