Mobilities and Moorings


In our increasingly globalized world, there is much talk of people, things, and ideas “on the move.” Over the past decade, sedentarist assumptions within the social sciences that fix people in place have given way to a “mobility turn” that emphasizes flows and movement across borders. In this course, we will attend to intersecting mobilities and immobilities from the vantage point of anthropology and related disciplines, with particular attention to the topic of migration and diaspora. Our ethnographic exploration of this subject matter will take us from Ghanaian fishing villages to Italian cityscapes and from Oaxacan weaving towns to the suburbs of Oregon and the interstitial spaces of Internet cafes in the Philippines and beyond. Such forays will lead us to grapple with a series of related questions: What are the structures and technologies that enhance some people’s freedom of movement while constraining other people’s abilities to leave a place or stay in place? What role does entrapment, enclosure, or expulsion play in the making and reinforcing of material, social, and political boundaries and borders? How might migrants and other travelers invoke creative forms of movement in order to affect social mobility? In what ways do these intersecting actual and virtual (im)mobilities assist us in understanding the relationship between space and place, exclusion and belonging? Students will be invited to conduct original ethnographic fieldwork or service learning as part of their conference work.