Stuck in a mobile world: the agentive potential of immobility
Alessandro Gusman (University of Turin)
Anna Baral (Ã…rhus University)
Cristiano Lanzano (The Nordic Africa Institute (Uppsala, Sweden))
Cristiano Lanzano (1st session); Anna Baral (2nd session)
Aula Magna-Bergsmannen
Thursday 16 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Mobility cannot be separated from the "stuckness" caused by structural constraints, lack of resources or opportunities. Uneventful as it may be, stuckness is full of agentive potential, anticipation and imagination. The panel explores its embeddedness in mobility, rather than their mutual exclusion.

Long abstract:

Anthropology and social sciences have predominantly focused on mobility in the past three decades - what has been defined a "new mobilities paradigm" (Sheller, Urry 2006).

However, it has also become evident how a mobility paradigm cannot avoid confronting the issue of immobility. "Stuckness" is not exceptional, and it should not be seen as the opposite of "mobility", but rather as a litmus test for how the high local and global mobility in the contemporary world is unevenly distributed, and often hindered by structural factors. It is even more relevant for those who aspire to transcend it, but who lack resources to do it, thus experiencing a sort of "displacement in place" (Hammar 2014). "Involuntary immobility" (Burrell 2012) is worsened by the media that expose vulnerable and marginal individuals to the imaginary of a mobile world.

Through a focus on stuckness rather than on the "critical events" (Das 1995) constituting the mobility process, it is possible to appreciate the possibilities of agency, navigation and control that individuals have on an (apparently) uneventful time, in the everyday and the mundane in which people image, anticipate and project themselves towards mobility.

Against this background, the panel explores stuckness in its embeddedness in mobility, rather than considering them as mutually exclusive.

The panel invites ethnographic contributions on temporal, geographical and social immobility that explore its relevance for agency and imagination.