[URBANTH-L]CFP - Theorizing (im)mobilities: Anthropological takes on an emerging metanarrative

Noel B. Salazar nbsalazar at gmail.com
Mon Dec 22 12:47:00 EST 2008

This is a call for papers for an invited session at the 2009 AAA Annual 

*** Apologies for cross-posting ***

Theorizing (im)mobilities: Anthropological takes on an emerging 
American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
Philadelphia Marriott, Philadelphia, December 2-6, 2009

Organizer: Dr. Noel B. Salazar (University of Leuven)

Mobility, noun:
(1) ability to move or to be moved;
(2) ease or freedom of movement; and
(3) tendency to change easily or quickly.

It is fashionable to imagine today’s world as being in constant motion, 
with people, cultures, goods, money, businesses, diseases, images, and 
ideas flowing in every direction across the planet. The scholarly 
literature is replete with concepts and metaphors attempting to capture 
altered or intensified spatial and temporal realities: 
deterritorialization and scapes, time–space compression, the network 
society and its space of flows, cosmopolitanism, and the possibility of 
leading bi-focal and multi-focal lives in several locations 
simultaneously through transnational migration. Sociologists and 
geographers enthusiastically talk about the ‘mobility turn’ in the 
social sciences, stressing the breaching of boundaries by migration, 
mass communication, and trade, and suggesting the emergence of novel 
forms of identity, economy, and community. For the self-critical 
discipline of anthropology, which has accused itself in the recent past 
of representing people as territorially, socially, and culturally 
bounded, this perceived new reality is thought to be theoretically and 
methodologically challenging.
If mobility is the new mantra to be chanted, the chorus line might be 
older than most scholars want to acknowledge. The idea that everything 
is in constant motion was already developed by the Greek philosopher 
Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 540-480 BCE), who became known for his 
doctrine that change is central to the universe and that ‘all things 
flow’. Long before globalization, transnationalism, or cosmopolitanism 
became academic buzzwords, anthropologists already knew about such 
mobilities as experience experts (although they not necessarily 
acknowledged them in their writings). With the present hype over global 
fluxes and flows, we tend to forget that many of anthropology’s founding 
scholars, including Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski, were themselves 
migrants and that the latter put transcultural mobility at the heart of 
ethnographic practice. Not only the experience of “being there” produced 
invaluable insights that shaped the discipline, but also the act of 
traveling “out of place” played a determining role. At the same time, 
critically engaged ethnographers have been among the first to point out 
that the very processes that produce global movements and linkages 
promote immobility, exclusion, and disconnection.
In line with the 2009 Annual Meeting’s general theme, ‘The End/s of 
Anthropology’, this panel aims at discussing the analytical purchase of 
(im)mobility as an overarching conceptual framework to study and 
understand the current human condition. Individual papers will advance 
anthropological theorizing by addressing the following questions: Why 
has the distinction between mobilities and immobilities, in their 
various forms, gradually become one of the central dichotomies in social 
theory (with the former usually being a priori positively valued)? Which 
role do conceptualizations of (im)mobility play in anthropological 
theories, both today and historically? How are anthropology (as a 
discipline) and anthropologists (as ethnographic practitioners) 
positioned in relation to issues of (im)mobility? Why is mobility (not) 
the next grand narrative in anthropology or the social sciences at large?

If you are interested in participating in this panel, contact Dr. Noel 
B. Salazar (noel.salazar at soc.kuleuven.be) by January 3, 2009 
(negotiations are underway to have this panel accepted as an executive 
or invited session).
Please submit your name, your affiliation, a title, and an abstract 
limited to 250 words. High-quality papers will be selected for 
publication in an edited volume.
Following AAA rules, all participants must register for AAA membership 
or receive a waiver; participants who receive waivers must pay the 
meeting registration fee.
More information about the conference in general will soon be available 

Dr. Noel B. SALAZAR obtained his PhD from the Department of Anthropology 
at the University of Pennsylvania (USA). He is currently a Postdoctoral 
Fellow at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leuven (Belgium) 
and a Visiting Research Associate at the Centre for Tourism and Cultural 
Change, Leeds Metropolitan University (UK). His research interests 
include anthropologies of mobility, the local-to-global nexus, 
discourses and imaginaries of Otherness, culture brokering and contact, 
and public interest ethnographies. More information about his projects 
and publications is available online:
Noel B. Salazar, Ph.D.
Marie Curie Fellow (EC, FP7-PEOPLE-IRG)
Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
IMMRC, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leuven
Parkstraat 45 (AV 03.06), bus 3615, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)475 53.73.13, Fax +32 (0)16 32.59.02

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