ArticlePDF Available

Anti-sedentarism and the anthropology of forced migration



Anthropologists of forced migration have advanced unique perspectives exploring identity and community as they relate to space. With its critique of naturalized conceptions of rootedness, boundedness, and territorialization, anti-sedentarism stands as an important conceptual development emanating from this work. And while expressions such as 'sedentary bias' and 'sedentarist thinking' are found throughout this body of literature, anti-sedentarism per se has not received a proper treatment of its disciplinary underpinnings and relevance to the anthropology of mobilities. This review article identifies some of the genealogical traces of anti-sedentarism, discussing it through anthropological contributions in both the cultural and mobility turns. Informed by the work of anthropologists of forced migration, the shape of anti-sedentarism takes form, followed by a critical discussion on key debates related to this concept. A selection and review of migrant and refugee ethnographies produced during the mobility turn (from the 1990s onward) is then used to explore the extent which anti-sedentarism has translated to the empirical work of anthropologists and ethnographers engaging with displacement, dispossession, and deterritorialization.
  |     10
Nicolas Parent
Anthropologists of forced migration have advanced unique perspectives
exploring identity and community as they relate to space. With its critique of
naturalized conceptions of rootedness, boundedness, and territorialization,
anti-sedentarism stands as an important conceptual development
emanating from this work. And while expressions such as ‘sedentary bias’
and ‘sedentarist thinking’ are found throughout this body of literature, anti-
sedentarism per se has not received a proper treatment of its disciplinary
underpinnings and relevance to the anthropology of mobilities. This review
article identies some of the genealogical traces of anti-sedentarism,
discussing it through anthropological contributions in both the cultural and
mobility turns. Informed by the work of anthropologists of forced migration,
the shape of anti-sedentarism takes form, followed by a critical discussion
on key debates related to this concept. A selection and review of migrant
and refugee ethnographies produced during the mobility turn (from the
1990s onward) is then used to explore the extent which anti-sedentarism
has translated to the empirical work of anthropologists and ethnographers
engaging with displacement, dispossession, and deterritorialization.
Keywords: sedentarism; forced migration; refugees; space; place; mobility; ethnography
Since the turn of the millennium, there has
been a rapid uptick in studies exploring
mobility (for a review, see Cresswell 2010; 2012;
2014). ‘Mobility’ is an all encapsulating term
of research on movement, transit, transport,
migration, displacement, and so on. In its
ambivalence and diversity, this research area is
interested in all that is in motion. is direction
is supplemented by claims that we now live in
a new age of ‘hypermobility’ or ‘supermodernity’
(Augé 1995; Sivaramakrishnan and Vaccaro
2006)—qualied by rapid ows and processes
of goods, people, and ideas—notions of
‘time-space compression (Harvey 1989), and
the foundations and aspirations of earlier
scholarship on globalization (Massey 1994).
Central to the ‘mobility turn’ is its contestation
of notions of sedentarism—in its relation to
both time and space—where it is taken to
represent boundedness, immobility, and ‘being
stuck’ in a world that is otherwise moving. As an
intellectual paradigm based on movement, the
  |     11
Nicolas Parent
mobility turn has naturally gravitated towards
uid, unsettled, and ‘nomadic’ conceptions about
the world and its peoples.
e study of migration has been instru-
mental in dening the mobility turn. As Lems
(2016) observes:
Over the last two decades, there has been
a radical shift from stable, rooted, and
mappable identities to uid, transitory, and
migratory phenomena. Rather than being
bounded by a timeless and unmovable
place, people are now thought of as moving
continuously through exible, open-ended,
and contested space. Refugees and migrants
have come to be the symbolic gures of
this shift. [emphasis in original] (Lems
2016: 317–318)
Migration scholars have eectively been well-
positioned to contribute to the intellectual
currents of the mobility turn. Amongst them,
anthropologists have shown great aptitude,
largely because of their discipline’s imprint
across the social sciences during the ‘cultural
turn’; many of its key ideas now formulate
scholarship on mobility. An inuential gure
here is Liisa H. Malkki and her advances in
‘Refugees and Exile: From “Refugee Studies” to
the National Order of ings’ (1995a). Based
on her ethnography of camp-based and city-
dwelling Hutu refugees in Tanzania, Malkki
(1995b) warns against the sedentarist bias of
scholarship and the naturalized representations
of territoriality, nationality, and rootedness
that underlie the category of ‘refugee’ and
conceptualizations of ‘people on the move’.
Extending Malkki’s work, anthropologists
have challenged the notion that primordial
attachments to particular places remain the
primary determinants of identication and
belonging among displaced populations,
emphasizing instead the importance of forward-
looking practices of attachment to (and
detachment from) place. ese anti-sedentarist
contributions focused on deterritorialization
and transnationalism have been instrumental
in deconstructing essentialized readings of
refugees, their experience, and more broadly,
global migration phenomena. Importantly, it
has opened up new ways of thinking about
refugees’ role and agency in reterritorialization,
place-making, and inscriptions of the cultural
self in new places.
e aim of this article is to provide a com-
prehensive review of literature to draw out some
of the genealogies of anti-sedentarism and
how its critique of naturalized conceptions of
rootedness, boundedness, and territorialization
in situated within contemporary ethnographic
work by anthropologists of forced migration.
While many scholars have discussed the
emergence, origins, and broad conceptual
underpinnings of the ‘mobility turn’ (Cresswell
2010; Hannam et al. 2006; Sheller and Urry
2006), and others have explored how this relates
to the study of forced migration (Schewel
2020; Glick Schiller and Salazar 2013), I am
unaware of any work that specically looks at
these developments through the lens of anti-
sedentarism. Bringing together an eclectic
collection of anthropological literatures that
connect dierent forms of human migration,
(im)mobility, and movement to geographic
space, this paper dees the often monolithic
and isolationist norms of traditional review
articles. rough this approach, anti-
sedentarism as a concept takes shape, showcasing
its relevance within assessments on the
interconnection between people ‘on the move’
and places of meaning and identication.
Importantly, while this article works towards
recognizing and locating anti-sedentarism
within anthropological work focused on forced
  |     12
Nicolas Parent
migration, it also hopes to speak to other
anthropologies (and geographies) centering on
human movement.
e next sections will move towards this,
rst by exploring anti-sedentarism’ roots in the
intellectual developments of both the ‘cultural
turn’ (1970s–early 2000s) and the ‘mobility
turn’ (1990s–present), supplemented by relevant
work by anthropologists of forced migration.
Drawing out key traits of the anti-sedentarist
position, I will then attempt to draw out the
shape of so-called anti-sedentarism. Critiques
of anti-sedentarism will then be explored.
Next, a selection of geographically-diverse
ethnographies—largely by forced migration
anthropologists—will be used to explore the
extent in which the anti-sedentarist approach
has been relayed to the eld. e nal section of
this essay will explore how these ethnographies
conducted and published throughout the
mobility turn have at once grown from the
engagement and critique of naturalized
representations of territoriality, nationality,
and rootedness, while also remaining faithful
to the importance of ‘groundedness’. is
last section shows how the empirical work of
forced migration anthropologists ‘talks back
to the anti-/sedentarist binary, showcasing
their important contributions to broader
anthropological inquiries into transnational
(im)mobility (Glick Schiller 2010; 2015; Levitt
and Jaworsky 2007; Salazar 2013).
Anthropology has long been interested in the
relationship between place and people. In
classical works, place (often synonymized with
the term ‘space’) was merely an inert container
where social and cultural life occurred. From
a functionalist perspective, place and space
facilitated and gave life. From a structuralist
perspective, place and space constituted an
anal xity—much like kinship—that provided
the bedrock of community and society. As with
many other concepts and theories of the social
sciences, essentialist and taken-for-granted ideas
of spatiality and culture were disrupted during
the ‘cultural turn’ of the 1970s. is period,
spanning from the 1970s until the early 2000s
(Rosati 2017), was marked by a heightened
interest in culture as a central node of sociality
and personhood. Most importantly, it was
a period where the old guard of structuralism
and its deep commitment to understanding
the organization of people and places through
systems, hierarchies, and models was replaced
with postcolonial (Bhabha 1994; Said 1978;
Minh-Ha 1991), poststructural and postmodern
(Derrida 1998 [1967]; Foucault 1990 [1976];
1995 [1975]), and feminist (Butler 1990; Ortner
and Whitehead 1981) approaches. Grappling
with its foundational ties to the colonial project,
anthropology paid great attention to how it had
constructed and reied notions of ‘the native’,
‘the savage’, and ‘the Other’.
In these confrontations, the intersection
of place, culture, and identity underwent great
scrutiny. James Cliord’s (1988) work was
instrumental in this new disciplinary reexivity,
making the erudite observation that ‘the idea of
culture carries with it an expectation of roots,
of a stable, territorialized existence … common
notions of culture persistently bias the answer
toward rooting rather than travel’ (Cliord
1988: 338). Confrontation to this long-
standing ‘expectation’ was greatly inuenced by
the increasing popularity of critical scholarly
work exploring nationalism and identity, and
importantly, the historical observation that
while mobility was characteristic of much of
human history it had become increasingly
restricted, as a result of post-Westphalian
  |     13
Nicolas Parent
nation-building and colonization (Dowty
1987; Wolf 1982). As Akhil Gupta notes in the
introductory paragraph to his inuential article
‘e Song of the Nonaligned World’:
e nation is so deeply implicated in the
texture of everyday life and so thoroughly
presupposed in academic discourses on
‘culture’ and ‘society’ that it becomes
dicult to remember that it is only one,
relatively recent, historically contingent
form of organizing space in the world.
(Gupta 1992: 63)
Equally important was the increasing recogni-
tion that we were moving into an increasingly
globalized future:
‘Globalization’ is currently one of the
most frequently-used and most powerful
terms in our geographical and social
imaginations. At its extreme (and though
‘extreme’, this version is none the less highly
popular) what it calls up is a vision of total
unfettered mobility; of free unbounded
space. (Massey 1999: 33)
In these reections existed a deep sense of anti-
sedentarism—both as a vision for an unbounded
and ‘free’ future and in its confrontation of past
(and present) anthropologies that uncritically
naturalized the link between people and place.
Here, I echo Kokot’s (2007) analysis that
anthropology’s new theoretical directions
grew out of both a postmodernist perspective
that critiqued foundational terminology—the
‘eld’, ‘place’, ‘culture’, ‘identity’—and the
emerging global studies perspective that
explored delocalization and deterritorialization.
Important debates emanated from the post -
modern perspective, where questions about
representation led to observations on
anthropology’s implicit albeit perhaps
unintentional forms of othering through the
constructions of its ‘subjects’ as some-how
‘primitive’, ‘native’, ‘savage’, ‘exotic’—and some-
where—in place, bounded, immobile, and
sedentary (Appadurai 1988a; 1988b; Gupta and
Ferguson 1992). Representational issues of voice
and time became discussed in close tandem
with the issue of place. Fabian’s (1983) concept
of ‘denial of coevalness’ was relevant here,
recognising that anthropological accounts of
the ‘ird World’ were often anachronistic and
central to primitivizing people and communities
under study. Complimentary to this, Munn
(1996: 464–465) showed the idiosyncrasy in
assumptions about time and place, where the
former was considered dynamic while space
remained static, where ‘boundaries are always
xed, relatively enduring forms marked o the
ground’. Where spatiality in these foreign places
experienced an assumed inertia, so, too, did
its people, leading to representations of these
cultures as somewhat frozen in time (Appadurai
1988a: 36). Rodman’s (1992) contributions were
also inuential, where observations from her
eldwork in Melanesia and Vanuatu led her
to articulate a conception of place as socially
constructed, relative, and dynamic; one where
ideas and people are temporary, overlapping,
and contested. Like Rodman (1992), Appadurai
(1988b) drew attention to the ethnographers’
positionality at the intersection of place and
vocality: ‘e problem of voice (“speaking for”
and “speaking to”) intersects with the problem
of place (speaking “from” and speaking “of”)’
(Appadurai 1988b: 17).
From the globalist perspective, the ‘nation
and its constellations—nationality, nationhood,
nationalism, nation-state—became the object
of much deconstruction, largely as a result of
new globalization-induced contestations to
its integrity, its changing role in geopolitics,
  |     14
Nicolas Parent
and new theoretical directions from the
postmodern critique. is deconstruction
inevitably undermined the legitimacy of nations
as homogenous and the ‘natural’ interlocutors
between the global and local (Basch et al. 2000
[1994]). New observations about mobility
and exchange also played an important role in
shaking up these national markers of cultural
and social dierence:
e view of an authentic culture as an
autonomous internally coherent universe
no longer seems tenable in a postcolonial
world. Neither ‘we’ nor ‘they’ are as
self-contained and homogenous as we/
they once appeared. All of us inhabit an
interdependent late 20th-century world,
which is at once marked by borrowing and
lending across porous cultural boundaries,
and saturated with inequality, power, and
domination. (Rosaldo 1988: 87)
In what was seen as an increasingly mobile
and deterritorialized world, new ideas at the
intersection of place, culture, and identity were
ourishing; to name a few inuential directions,
scholars became interested in cultural exchange
through hybridity (Bhabha 1989), assimilation
of ‘outside ideas’ through indigenization and
vernacularization (Appadurai 1996), and the
exploration of culture through ‘routes not
roots’ (Cliord 1997). Peoples and cultures
were increasingly conceptualized as connected,
heterogenized, and owing through each other
via intricate global networks (Massey 1993) and
‘translocalities’ (Appadurai 2003 [1996]). Where
the ‘clustering of cultural practices’ became
increasingly understood as deterritorialized
(Gupta and Ferguson 1992), and national
communities as constructed through ‘imagina-
tion as a social practice’ (Appadurai 1996; see
also Anderson 1983), there was a thorough
rattling of pseudo-puritanical ideals about
the signicance of emplaced and territorially
bounded nations, and in particular how these
relate to questions of identity.
Considering their scope, it is not surprising
that anthropologists of forced migration found
kin within these new horizons. Fieldwork ‘at the
margins’ (Das and Poole 2004) exposed these
scholars to the brutal reality of political violence
and to the dark side of state technologies that
cemented notions of identity, community, and
nationhoodidentity cards, passports, borders,
refugee camps, and immigrant detention centres.
And as these same notions became increasingly
understood as articial and socially constructed,
so, too, did the assumed foundational building
blocks formulating the refugee identity.
Liisa H. Malkki was arguably a trailblazer
in bridging the postmodern and globalist
developments of the ‘cultural turn’, the then-
emerging paradigm concerned with mobility
(i.e. the ‘mobility turn’), and anthropological
work centered on displacement, dispossession,
and deterritorialization. As observed by
Chatty (2014), Malkki’s contributions were
revolutionary in shifting anthropologists from
an interest in exploring refugees’ past and
continued attachment to their homeland to
explorations on homemaking, belonging, and
future aspirations.
To explore the emplacement-displacement
binary, Malkki drew heavily on explorations
of hybridity, postcoloniality, creolization, and
transnational cultural forms, pointing out that
‘these discussions do not assume the purity
or naturalness, wholeness or wholesomeness
of origins, identities, communities, cultural
traditions, or nationalities (...) displacement
and emplacement are seen as historical
products, ever-unnished projects’ (Malkki
1995: 516). It is through this view that Malkki
challenged the essentialized form of the ‘refugee
  |     15
Nicolas Parent
identity’a depoliticized and liminal identity
that was ‘naturally out of place, estranged
in its country of asylum, and undoubtfully
yearning for an eventual return home (Malkki
1992; 1995a; 1995b). Malkki’s research with
Burundian refugees in Tanzania provided an
anti-sedentarist countercurrent to much of
the refugee research of the 1990s which, as
Preston (1999) notes, was largely focused on
the repatriation of refugees to their respective
places of origin. is ‘decade of repatriation’,
as it was designated by former UN High
Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, was
largely reliant on ‘sedentarist thinking’ (Kibreab
1999) that saw re-rooting displaced persons
as the optimal and natural solution to the
refugee problem, an approach thatalongside
Malkki’s contributionsbecame increasingly
problematized as the ‘decade of repatriation’ was
coming to a close (Black and Koser 1999).
e above provides signposts of the anti-
sedentarist position and its relation to mobility,
migration, and displacement. It begins with a
fundamental critique of a sedentarist mythico-
history1 that normatively considers the tight
coupling of people and place as optimal and
preferred. Following the discourses of human
nature and evolution, sedentarism is seen as a
historical imperative; conversely, nomadism is
a backwards practice symbolic of an absence
of civilization. While anti-sedentarism should
not to be synonymized with nomadism, but
rather be conceptualized as a critical approach
to claims that ‘naturalize’ the link between
people and specic geographic locales, it is no
doubt inuenced by a strong historical record
showing exchange, movement, and interaction
between people, and across large expanses of
geographic terrain (Barnard and Wendrich
2008), and relatedly, by the call to study human
evolution and social change through historical
explorations of changes in (im)mobility (Kelly
In its eort to debunk the ‘sedentarist
myth’ that assembles people in isolated cultural
units neatly associated to distinct places in
geographic space, anti-sedentarism seeks to
disrupt the ‘sedentarist doxa2 that has led
to the political, ideological, and religious
construction of territorially-based identities. As
expressed by Hammond (2004: 79), ‘what is
the issue (...) is the assumption that place plays
a particular, generalizable, and predictable kind
of role in community construction and identity
formation across cultures’ [emphasis in original].
Jansen and Löfving (2008: 9) provide a similar
assessment: ‘e problem of the sedentarist bias,
we argue, is not only that people are presumed
to be naturally rooted, and that movement is
therefore somehow inherently violent, but also
that they are seen as forever rooted’ [emphasis
in original]. And so, whilst the anti-sedentarist
position sees both place and identity as the
result of social construction, its analytical
focus is most concerned with the internal and
external construction of catchall, stereotypical,
prescriptive, and essentialist place-based
identities. Codied by markers of ‘nationality’,
‘refugee status’, we have seenthese
highly sedentarized identities risk emboldening
geographic divisiveness and the ‘Other’, all the
while locking peoples to places without choice,
autonomy, or agency.
Located within critical assessments on
global immobility (Maple et al. 2021; Turner
2007), anti-sedentarism therefore underpins
the many confrontations to global power
asymmetries and forms of violence that stie,
control, and prevent human movement. To anti-
sedentarists, sedentarism as a script for social
  |     16
Nicolas Parent
organization is an imprisoning form of control,
an extension of carceral logics if you will (Moran
et al. 2018), and one based on territoriality, place
of birth, heritage, history, and the like. Rather
than look to the past for markers of identity
for instance, by exploring attachments to the
homeland or nationalist discourseanti-
sedentarism and its engagement with movement,
transnationalism, and deterritorialization is
instead interested in forward-looking practices
of identity formation and intersubjectivity. In
its extreme deterritorialized form, the anti-
sedentarist position has produced migration
scholarship that goes beyond the material world,
as is evident in work exploring the imaginary
(Findlay et al. 2013; Ramji 2006; Salazar 2011),
existential immobility (Hage 2005; Lems
and Tošić 2019), and temporal dispossession
(Ramsay 2019), to name a few. In its radical form,
the anti-sedentarist position and its proclivity
for individual and unbounded freedom leads to
a direct confrontation with state, authoritarian,
and hegemonic technologies of control, perhaps
one grounded in anarchist theory and praxis.3
e critique of the anti-sedentarist dimension
of the mobility turn—and it is, eectively, only
one dimension of this paradigm—lies between
a sense of losing and having ground beneath our
feet, both materially and metaphorically. With
sophistication, the postmodern critique has
successfully penetrated and abstracted much of
the social sciences, producing highly theoretical
forms of scholarship that can seem distant from
reality, or rather, dicult to translate to the
empirical context. Hage (2005) exemplies this
feeling in his defense for eld-based migration
research, providing an interesting observation
on the wide-use of Anderson’s (1983) ‘imagined
When a person presenting a paper on
a diasporic community is asked what
evidence there is to show that the diasporic
group they are studying is a community,
they give you a superior look and inform
you that ‘it doesn’t work this way’ because
the community they are studying is an
‘imagined community’. Here ‘imagined
community’ seems to have very little
community in it and a lot of imagination
instead, usually the imagination of the
researcher. (Hage 2005: 468)
While this bold critique perhaps overlooks
the value of Anderson’s contributions, it is
demonstrative of wider concerns on the absence
of rm groundedness in postmodern theory and
its wider project to ‘de-naturalize’ key concepts
across disciplines (Easthope and McGowan
2004). Relevant to the study of migration,
spatial terminology has undergone a similar
upheaval, where Cresswell (2009: 9) identies
a bifurcation between those scholars ‘who see
mobility and process as antagonistic to place
and those who think of place as created by both
internal and external mobilities and processes’.
While Malkki’s contributions were certainly
inuential in confronting sedentarist notions
of migration as pathological (Chatty 2014),
other migration scholars have suggested that
relying too much on this logic may instead lead
to a pathologized conception of place-making,
belonging, and connections to locality. Gaim
Kibreab was arguably one of the rst scholars
to challenge Malkki’s thesis, with Jansen and
Löfving (2008: 4) providing a summary of his
view on anti-sedentarism: ‘ignoring existing
patterns of territorialization, identication
with place, and a desire to return to locality of
origin, anti-sedentarists engage in politically
dangerous forms of wishful thinking, mistakenly
concluding that identities are nowadays more
  |     17
Nicolas Parent
and more detached from territory in a global
move toward a-national, deterritorialized
citizenship’. Relatedly, there is a concern that
undermining important place-based questions
related to exilic belonging and homemaking
may embolden a problematic discourse that
frames displaced persons as essentially liminal
(Brun and Fábos 2015; Parent and Sarazin
2020; Ramsay 2019).
As a response to this, Lems (2016: 317)
asks forced migration scholars to ‘confront the
absence of place in current readings of dis-
placement (...) where dominant anthropological
discourses tend to become tangled up in
a fascination with the boundlessness refugees
and migrants embody’. is is a preoccupation
that has endured throughout the mobility
turn, where Brun’s (2001) early treatment of
the ‘imaginary’ contends that ‘the focus on
imagination and the fear of becoming essentialist
seem to have resulted in a neglect of the location
where displaced people and migrants are present’
(Brun 2001: 20). In its deepest formfully
uprooted, deterritorialized, and unbounded
one must wonder if the mobility turn somewhat
fetishizes movement, not realising that this is
perhaps an elitist worldview (Friedman 2002)
that isn’t thoughtfully engaging with neither the
facts of widespread immobility, nor its violent
form of forced displacement.
is last observation is no less important
in the assessment of anti-sedentarism as an
intellectual norm that—if not employed in
close tandem with critical analysis—risks
depoliticizing the migration process and
overlooking important material manifestations
of power that constitute the ‘refugee reality’;
important considerations of widespread
immobility (Massey 1994; Kibreab 1999; Faist
2013; Bélanger and Silvey 2020), protracted
encampment (Malkki 1996; Hailey 2009),
short-sighted humanitarian interventions
(Hyndman and Giles 2016), the strengthening
(Richardson 2013) and externalization (Rodier
2013) of borders, and so on. In its assault on
terminology, there is a fear that some conceptual
directions of the postmodern-friendly anti-
sedentarist position have subtle—yet extremely
important—political implications. As Stepputat
(1999) puts it:
When researchers use (...) de-naturalizing
analytics on categories that are introduced
in order to help or protect people, such as
‘refugee’, ‘repatriate’, or ‘internally displaced
people’, they are entering a loaded political
eld where they have to be very much
aware of the eects their arguments may
have. (Stepputat 1999: 416; quoted in
Turton 2005).
Allow me to draw a parallel to demonstrate
this. In Blu’s (1996) essay relating sense of
place to her ethnography of the Lumbee Native
Americans, she notes that ‘Indians, for their
part, need to make their claims convincing
to federal or state legislators, lawyers, and
policy implementers and are often forced to
argue for their priority in time and stability
in space in order to t other Americans’ ideas
about Indianness, property, and rights’ (Blu
1996: 224225). ese conditions point to
a kind of sedentarism, one based on a ‘stereotyped
view of “an” Indian people with “its” own culture
and social organization located in “a designated
territory (Blu 1996: 224). In order to gain land
rights, the Lumbee need to ‘speak to’ a state
typology on indigeneity. is is evidently linked
to the notion of ‘legibility’ and the demand to
acquiesce with a rights-granting logic that has
been put in place by what Scott (1998) would
likely call ‘authoritarian high modernism’.
Refugees face a similar predicament, where their
very protection (and the rights granted to them)
  |     18
Nicolas Parent
depends on the outcome of a highly opaque
asylum determination process. ey must ‘prove’
their persecution with nesse, using records,
documentation, witnesses, and marks of bodily
harm to build a case for themselves. Dubiously
enough, the standard of proof and the protocols
for status determination vary widely between
nations. And as Malkki (1996: 516) rightly
arms ‘the international refugee regime (...)
is inseparable from this wider national order
of things, this wider grammar’. ere can
be emancipatory brilliance, then, in an anti-
sedentarist anthropology of forced migration
that constitutes culture and identity as largely
deterritorialized, interconnected, and hybridized;
one where subjectivities take precedence over
essentialized notions of belonging. However,
in this resistance to essentializing refugees to
a simplistic transactional model that associates
identity and culture to bounded ‘places’ and
national territorial entities, we also run the risk
of undermining important identity markers
that make them legible in a panoptic system of
control (Foucault 1995). e disturbing plight
of stateless persons and sans-papiers exemplies
the possible outcome of such risks.
is discussion, as it is intended, should
leave us unsure about the beauty and the beast
of anti-sedentarism as it relates to the mobility
turn and the anthropology of forced migration.
Stepping away from theoretical and disciplinary
debates for a moment, the next section will
‘look to the eld’ to explore how the above
has translated to the practice and writing of
ethnographies within migrant contexts.
e purpose of this section is to explore how
anti-sedentarist thinking and approaches
and conversely, those from the sedentarist
positionhave been employed in contemporary
ethnographies throughout the ‘mobility turn’. To
do this, I will explore a small but eclectic mix of
ethnographies (Agier 2018; Allan 2014; Chatty
2010; Clark-Kazak 2011; Hammond 2004;
Hasselberg 2016; Hyndman 2000; Jackson
2016; Malkki 1995b). e selection of these
ethnographies is based on three factors: (1) their
inuence to the eld of refugee and migration
studies, (2) their thematic and geographic
dierence, and (3) my personal interest and
claim that these have something to say about
the above discussion on anti-sedentarism. e
analysis of this small collection of ethnographies
was done by reading each carefully, rst
identifying key themes, methods, and
conclusions on the link between people, place,
and migration. is was followed by a process of
literature grouping (Galvan and Galvan 2017),
working deductively from categories related to
key tensions between the sedentarist and anti-
sedentarist positions. All ethnographies were
conducted by anthropologists, at the exception
of Clark-Kazak (2010) and Hyndman (2000)
who, respectively, explore their cases through
their expertise in international development
and human geography. Diving into these
ethnographies, readers should not consider this
section as a complete review of these works;
the selected ethnographies have much more to
say than what I will draw out here. Rather, the
intention is to situate sedentarism and anti-
sedentarism within eld-based studies.
One notable convergence is the persistence
of territorial identities despite displacement,
dispossession, and deterritorialization. In
Hasselberg (2016), she follows the cases
of eighteen migrants who have been given
a deportation order as a result of criminal
conviction. e bulk of those involved in
her study are rst- or second-generation
immigrants, most of whom feel British and
  |     19
Nicolas Parent
disconnected from their place of origin.
Her ethnography is focused on the period
between their ‘deportability’ (i.e. when they
are given the deportation order) and actual
‘deportation’, a period typically spent in
a migrant detention centre. Here, liminality is
experienced in dierent formsbetween two
national identities, and between freedom in
one place and deportation to another. While
Hasselberg (2016) clearly states that her work
is not intended to be political, her ethnography
draws attention to some of the idiosyncrasies of
‘crimmigration and its foundations in nationalist
discourses of exclusion. Despite identifying
more with the place and identity of the United
Kingdom, this study shows how immigrants’
nationalityas a legal categorypredominates
over these attachments, determining life courses
and limiting individual choices.
While vastly dierent, Allan’s (2014)
study on the experiences of Palestinian exile
in Shatila also explores the ‘in between-ness’
of identities, as they relate to territorialization
and deterritorialization. Her work shows
that for many Palestinian youth, there is
a disillusionment with the ‘Right to Return’
movement and a strong desire to move beyond
nationalist orthodoxies. As Allan (2014) shows,
this is the result of several mutually-reinforcing
and interdependent factors: to name a few, that
most of these youth were born in Shatila and
have no physical relationship to Palestine, that
a generational divide somewhat bifurcates the
elders who hold onto the past and the youth
who wish to look beyond it, and that there
is a sense of being abandoned by important
organizations such as the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) and the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East (UNRWA). e dicult
camp conditions, Allan (2014) contends, make
it dicult for young Palestinians of Shatila
to address the tension between historical/
territorial and forward-looking/deterritorialized
identities: ‘the provisionality of daily life has
produced a particular temporality in which the
burdens of the present eclipse past and future’
(Allan 2014: 162).
Clark-Kazak’s (2011) study of Congolese
refugees in Uganda also nds a temporal
tension between identities. While explaining
that research participants recognize the
articiality of borders and notions of ethnicity,
her ethnography describes a camp experience
that is heavily inuenced by these markers of
identity. Territorialized attachments to ‘lineality’,
Clark-Kazak (2011) shows, are important in
dening the refugee experienceboth in how
people associate with each other and in terms of
legitimacy when making political claims at the
family, house-hold, community, and policy level.
In her ethnographic work on Burundian
Hutu refugees in Tanzania, Malkki’s (1995b)
ndings suggest a rift between town-based and
camp-based refugee identities. At Mishamo
camp, Tanzanian authorities are ‘Tutsinized’,
becoming the symbolic dominant Other who
controls and makes life dicult for Hutu
refugees. Town refugees living in Kigoma, who
have more extensive and egalitarian contact
with Tanzanians, are more inclined towards
incorporation within Tanzanian society.
Malkki’s (1995b) work suggests that those
living in the camp have a stronger attachment to
Hutu mythico-history and national cosmology,
explaining why this group is more resistant to
the possibility of naturalization; the status of
refugee is considered symbolic of Hutu identity,
and if stripped away, would prevent them from
laying claim to their homeland upon return.
Despite bodies being physically dissociated
from place through deterritorialization and
displacement, these works show the tenacity
of territory and place in the construction
  |     20
Nicolas Parent
of identities, senses of self-perception, and
community relations. Specic to Allan (2014),
Clark-Kazak (2011), and Malkki (1995b), these
historical and territorial ties are related to the
locus of agency and futurity, demonstrating an
eective exchange between both sedentarist
and anti-sedentarist approaches to analysing
eldwork data. eir engagement, on the one
hand, resists ‘naturalizing’ the link between
people and place, and on the other, doesn’t take
an ontological route that forcibly de-historicizes
research participants from their spatial roots.
In their exploration of refugee geogra-
phiesthe physical places where refugees
inhabit and experience the worldthese
ethnographies leverage both sedentarist and
anti-sedentarist analytical perspectives. In
camp-based ethnographies, some scholars
show both an acceptance of and resistance to
the deeply sedentarizing feature of refugee
encampment. On the one hand, these scholars
(Agier 2018; Allan 2014; Clark-Kazak 2011;
Hyndman 2000) recognize that the extreme
lack of resources in refugee camps, limited
opportunities for employment, non-existent
privacy, and dearth of meaningful places to
congregate make up a substratum for dire
living conditions. To that end, readers of these
ethnographies can get a sense that in order
for refugees to live dignied and fullling
futures, these ‘warehouse conditions’ (Smith
2004) will need to be dismantled. Yet, these
ethnographies do not make such normative
perhaps anti-sedentaristclaims that directly
contest the fabric of refugee camps. Instead,
they explore what goes on inside the camps to
subvert the logics that formulate the ‘refugee
identity’, control refugeehood, and justify their
segregation from citizen spaces. By showing
how complex, creative, and innovative refugees
are in their eort to build informal economies
(Allan 2014) and embody and enact politics
(Clark-Kazak 2011; Malkki 1995b), these
scholars deracinate essentialized notions about
refugees; those that qualify them as liminal,
apolitical, unproductive, and eectively out-of-
place until returned to their ‘homeland’.
While Hammond’s (2004) ethnography
is not within a refugee camp, but rather
explores the building of the isolated returnee
settlement of Aba Bai, her ethnography
unsettles common ideas about refugees by
showing their impressive ability to form
community attachment and a sense of home all
the while coping with and adapting to extreme
living conditions. In this context, Hammond
(2004) shows the paramount importance of
place. Taking a stronger stance within the
sedentarist and anti-sedentarist debate, Agier
(2018) is rmly anchored in the former while
Hyndman (2000) the latter. From a markedly
spatial approach, Hyndman (2000) provides
a critical study that places the refugee camp as
a site of power. Travelling between ground-level
qualitative data with refugees and a macrolevel
analysis of humanitarian aid and development
actors, she demonstrates how powerful actors
qualify and govern refugee camps along
the Kenya-Somalia border as ‘communities’
despite their lack of autonomy, agency, and
social functionality. Agier (2018), on the other
hand, provides a near-romantic account of
the informal camp at Calais, characterising
the ‘Jungle’ as a vibrant social and urban
laboratory ripe for experimentation. Whereas
Hyndman (2000) rmly holds that power
asymmetry is characteristic of the relationship
between camp residents and humanitarian
actors, Agier (2018) denes this relationship
as essentially productive and egalitarian. Until
its destruction by French authorities, the Jungle
was a deeply meaningful place that encouraged
self-organization and autonomy and embodied
a solidarity of cosmopolitanism. Similar to Agier
  |     21
Nicolas Parent
(2018), Chattys (2010) ethnography points
to the central importance of place in building
local cosmopolitanism across the Middle East.
Looking to important communities having
suered a great deal of dispossession and
displacement, notably Armenians, Christians,
Kurds, and Palestinians, she argues that these
minorities have maintained their cultural
identity while enjoying a strong attachment
to their host community. Defying the anti-
sedentarist position, Chatty (2010) argues that
this is the result of a Middle East metaculture
that does not prefer assimilation, but rather
encourages cosmopolitan ideals where
minorities are encouraged to remain attached to
their cultural identication and heritage.
Across these ethnographies, an important
observation can be made on the ‘de-sedentariz-
ing’ of methodologies. As with other important
concepts that were re-examined during the
cultural turn as described in the previous section,
the ‘eld’ underwent a similar treatment. As
described by Kokot (2007: 12), ‘“the eld” is no
longer a spatially dened site anthropologists
naïvely enter, leave or return to, as the notion of
spatially bounded ‘cultures’ rooted in a distinct
territory has been thoroughly deconstructed’,
adding that ‘in a vague metaphorical way,
“de-territorialization” refers to the dissolution
of borders, boundaries, and the anthropological
“eld”’ (ibid.: 15). As such, scholars have
recognized a notable push for multi-sited
ethnography, also in migration-related research
(Boccagni 2014; Falzon 2015; Hage 2005; Paul
and Yeoh 2020; Salazar, Elliot and Norum
e ethnographies of Chatty (2010),
Clark-Kazak (2011), Hyndman (2000), and
Jackson (2016) embrace this methodological
approach, where ndings are less attached
to specic locations and places. is allows
the authors to engage with metanarratives
that go beyond specic places and speak to
broader, systemic, or general themes such as
humanitarianism (Hyndman 2000), ethics
(Jackson 2016), youth (Clark-Kazak 2011),
and cosmopolitanism (Chatty 2010). is
approach can also make way for comparative
research that explores dierences between
sites, as is the case with Clark-Kazak’s (2010)
and Malkki’s (1995b) work. From a conceptual
and epistemological standpoint, ethnographies
engaging with the imaginary (Allan, 2014) and
existentialism (Hasselberg 2016; Jackson 2016)
also show a commitment to deterritorialized
and anti-sedentarist pathways to study migrant
and refugee identities, memory and futurity, and
attachment and belonging.
e ethnographies discussed in the previous
section were all written during the mobility turn,
and importantly, following the publication of
Liisa H. Malkki’s seminal ethnography in 1995.
While only a snapshot has been provided, these
scholars have certainly engaged with and ‘talked
back’ to issues brought forth by the debate
between sedentarism and anti-sedentarism and
how these relate to anthropological research.
While some have been more critical—or
rather, explicit—than others, I would argue
that the bulk of these ethnographies have
re-examined taken for granted markers of
identity—‘nation’, ‘refugee’, ‘foreignness’. In a
sense, this is representative of the postmodernist
foundations of the anti-sedentarist position,
characterized by a deep desire to uproot
and ‘deterritorialize concepts’. Interestingly,
nuance has emerged from this exercise. On
the one hand, these ethnographies have shown
the deep persistence of territorially-based
identities in the everyday lives and remembered
histories of forced migrants. On the other, the
  |     22
Nicolas Parent
innovation and creativity of refugees, and their
impressive eorts to build homes and a sense
of community, have challenged the notion
that primordial attachments to particular
places remain the primary determinants of
identication and belonging among displaced
populations. ese observations attest to the
complexity of displacement and the lives that
exist within these situations, and neither the
sedentarist nor the anti-sedentarist positions in
their strictest and singular form seem to be able
to disentangle all that happens therein. As these
ethnographies reveal, life, identity, place, and
culture are—unsurprisingly—too complex to
explore exclusively through a mutually-exclusive
Perhaps the most thoughtful, inspiring, and
humanizing of these ethnographies are those
that analyze their cases through a somewhat
Bhabhian ‘third space’ where identities are
conceptualized as hybridized, negotiated,
translocal, and ever-changing. While memory,
history, and things of the past are important
in identity-formation, so are present day lived
experience and aspirations for the future. While
a person is physically in one place, they can still
attribute meaning or attachment to ‘other places’,
whether they be in other geographic locations,
in the past or future, or even the imagination.
And lastly, while testimonials sometimes suggest
life is at a standstill and betwixt and between,
it certainly is not inert. ese nuances are
particularly salient in ethnographies that make
generous use of direct quotations from research
participants (Allan 2014; Hammond 2004;
Jackson 2016).
e ethnographies presented above have
also showcased the important ways forced
migration anthropologists have engaged with
and advanced broader anthropological inquiries
into transnational (im)mobility. Born out of the
mobility turn, this ‘anthropology of mobilities’
(Lelièvre and Marshall 2015) has produced
a vast ‘conceptual repertoire’ (Levitt and de
la Dehesa 2017) around a recognition that
‘many people maintain ties to their countries
of origin at the same time as they become
integrated into the countries that receive them
[where] immigrant incorporation and enduring
transnational practices are not antithetical but
simultaneous processes that mutually inform
each other’ (Levitt 2009: 1225). In the 1990s,
Basch, Glick Schiller, and Szanton Blanc’s
Nations Unbound (2000) described, amongst
others, the concept of ‘transnationalism’, ‘the
processes by which immigrants forge and
sustain multi-stranded social relations that link
together their societies of origin and settlement,
[building] social elds that cross geographic,
cultural, and political borders’ (Basch et al. 2000:
7). is has produced other related concepts
such as ‘simultaneity’, the idea that people who
move can be simultaneously embedded in more
than one locale (Levitt 2009; Levitt and Glick
Schiller 2004), and more recently ‘multiscalar
social elds’, where migrants ‘form multiple
new social relations and maintain others as
they settle in specic places and the networks
in which they live contribute to the remaking
of the institutional nexus of city-level, regional,
national, supranational, and globe-spanning
actors’ (Çağlar and Glick Schiller 2018: 9).
A critique of ‘methodological nationalism’ has
also been called into play (Glick Schiller 2010;
Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2003), asking
that scholarship go beyond the nation-state as
the ‘natural’ or ‘essential’ container of people,
societies, and cultures. From the ethnographies
of forced migration presented above, their
alignment to these developments in the
anthropology of mobilities is clear.
Yet in ‘talking back’, some from the
anthropology of mobilities may critique the
continued use of the language and analytic of
  |     23
Nicolas Parent
(anti-)sedentarism within academic literature,
claiming that this binarily-oriented debate
has been supplanted by the above (and more
recent) concepts of transnationalism, multiscalar
social elds, and simultaneity. And while I can
appreciate certain anthropologists’ desire to
‘move on’, the forces of sedentarist logic have
not ceased to exist. e phenomena of mass
displacement and mass incarceration continue to
be deeply intertwined, sustaining and producing
new carceral geographies across the globe.
Repatriation, as opposed to resettlement and
local integration, continues to be the most likely
‘durable solution to protracted forced migration
(Bradley 2013; Hammond 2014; Gerver
2018). Securitization and criminalization of
migration is still gaining ground, orienting
territorial containment strategies at the
American, Australasian, and European
periphery. And as for implications related to
scholars’ own research work, the so-called
resurgence of nationalism, and particularly in
its populist, ethnic, and digital forms (Elias
et al. 2021; López-Alves and Johnson 2018;
Mihelj and Jiménez-Martínez 2020), has in
some ways emboldened the pervasiveness of
methodological nationalism, where the nation-
state increasingly exerts a centrifugal/pulling
eect on social science research. To summarize,
the link between people and place continues to
be ‘naturalized along a spectrum of discourse,
at one end, and violence, at the other. While
many idealists will appreciate Levitt and
Glick Schiller’s (2004) call for transnational
migration studies to reformulate the concept
of society, those whose studies are centered on
the latter pole of this spectrum know too well
that theoretical reformulations won’t change
material circumstances.
As such, despite sedentarist bias and
its dull and outdated essentialist-collectivist
readings on the links between people and place,
it is perhaps too soon to abandon the (anti-)
sedentarism analytic. As the literature review
herein has shown—and further situated within
landmark ethnographies—both sedentarist and
anti-sedentarist positions continue to pull at
each other in meaningful and stimulating ways.
In its unique ability to articulate and critically
assess the dierent discursive registers around
the link between people and geographic space,
this article has shown the importance of (anti-)
sedentarism language within the anthropology
of forced migration, and more broadly, within
interdisciplinary transnational migration studies.
I would like to extend thanks to several professors
at McGill University who provided important
feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript,
notably Diana Allan (Anthropology), Megan
Bradley (Political Science), Jon Unruh
(Geography), Yann le Polain de Waroux
(Geography), Sarah Moser (Geography), and
Margaret Kalacska (Geography). I also received
excellent feedback from a list of important
scholars who engage directly with the things
I discuss in this article, notably Nina Glick
Schiller (Max Planck Institute for Social
Anthropology / University of Manchester),
Julia Eckert (Institute of Social Anthropology,
University of Bern), Stephen Reyna (Max
Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), and
Kiri Santer (Institute of Social Anthropology,
University of Bern). Special thanks are also in
order for the anonymous reviewers and Editors
(Laura Huttunen and Tuomas Tammisto) at
Suomen Antropologi. And lastly, I should also
thank my partner Meryem for enduring my
head-spinning musings about people and place
(I’m sorry, I love you).
  |     24
Nicolas Parent
1. Here I borrow from Liisa H. Malkki’s lexicon
in Purity and Exile (1995b). Mythico-history
is understood here as ordered, scripted, and
formulaic stories that make up a world that can
neither be called history nor myth.
2. is is a reference to Bourdieu’s (1990 [1980]: 68)
conceptualization of doxa as ‘undisputed, pre-
reexive, naïve, and native compliance with
the fundamental presuppositions of the eld’.
By ‘sedentarist doxa’, I am referring to the
unquestioned and taken-for-granted logics and
‘facts’ that naturalize the link between human
civilization and permanent settlement.
3. rough its long-standing philosophical contri-
butions, anarchist thought has emphasized
freedom, liberty, and autonomy. Relevant to anti-
sedentarism, Emma Goldman’s (1969 [1917])
essays ‘Prisons: A social crime and failure’ and
‘Patriotism: A menace to liberty’ share a common
discussion on the spatiality of control. Both
Élisée Reclus (2013 [1905]) and Peter Kropotkin
(1989 [1902]) are also relevant to this discussion,
where they question notions of progress across
geographies and refute the naturalization
of humans as inherently competitive. Anti-
sedentarism can also be found in anthropologist
David Graeber’s (2004) discussion on non-state
political entities and the need to dissolve borders,
a point that has been raised by the author in his
own discussion on environmental displacement
(Parent 2021).
Agier, Michel 2018. e Jungle: Calais’s Camps and
Migrants. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Allan, Diana 2014. Refugees of the Revolution:
Experiences of Palestinian Exile. Stanford: Stanford
University Press.
Anderson, Benedict 1983. Imagined Communities:
Reections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism.
London: Verso.
Appadurai, Arjun 1988a. Putting Hierarchy in its
Place. Cultural Anthropology 3 (1): 36–49.
Appadurai, Arjun 1988b. Introduction: Place
and Voice in Anthropological eory. Cultural
Anthropology 3 (1): 16–20.
Appadurai, Arjun 1996. Modernity at Large.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Appadurai, Arjun 2003 [1996]. Sovereignty
Without Territoriality: Notes for a Postnational
Geography. In Setha Low and Denise Lawrence-
Zuniga (eds). e Anthropology of Space and Place.
Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Augé, Marc 1995. Non Places: Introduction to an
Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso.
Barnard, Hans and Willemina Wendrich 2008. e
Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World
Nomadism. Los Angeles: UCLA Cotsen Institute of
Basch, Linda, Nina Glick Schiller and Cristina
Szanton Blanc 2000 [1994]. Nations Unbound:
Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments,
and Deterritorializated Nation-States. New York:
Bélanger, Danièle and Rachel Silvey 2020. An
Im/mobility Turn: Power Geometrics of Care and
Migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
46 (16): 3423–3440.
Bhabha, Homi K. 1989. Location, Intervention,
Incommensurability: A Conversation with Homi
Bhabha. Emergences 1 (1): 63–88.
Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. e Location of Culture. New
York and London: Routledge.
Black, Richard and Khalid Koser 1999. e End
of the Refugee Cycle? Refugee Repatriation and
Reconstruction. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Boccagni, Paolo 2014. From the Multi-sited to the
In-between: Ethnography as a Way of Delving into
Migrants’ Transnational Relationships. International
Journal of Social Research Methodology 19 (1): 1–16.
Bourdieu, Pierre 1990 [1980]. e Logic of Practice.
Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  |     25
Nicolas Parent
Brun, Cathrine 2001. Reterritorilizing the
Relationship Between People and Place in Refugee
Studies. Geograska Annaler: Series B, Human
Geography 83 (1): 15–25.
Brun, Cathrine and Anita Fábos 2015. Making
Homes in Limbo? A Conceptual Framework. Refuge
31 (1): 5–17.
Butler, Judith 1990. Gender Trouble. London:
Çaglar, Ayse and Nina Glick Schiller 2018. Migrants
and City-Making: Dispossession, Displacement, and
Urban Regeneration. Durham: Duke University Press.
Clark-Kazak, Christina R. 2011. Recounting
Migration: Political Narratives of Congolese Young
People in Uganda. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s
University Press.
Cliord, James 1988. e Predicament of Culture:
Twentieth-century Ethnography, Literature, and Art.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Cliord, James 1997. Routes: Travel and Translation
in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press.
Chatty, Dawn 2010. Displacement and Dispossession
in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Chatty, Dawn 2014. Anthropology and Forced
Migration. In Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena, Gil
Loescher, Katy Long and Nando Sigona (eds). e
Oxford Handbook of Refugee & Forced Migration
Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cresswell, Tim 2009. Place. In Nigel rift and Rob
Kitchen (eds). International Encyclopedia of Human
Geography. Oxford: Elsevier.
Cresswell, Tim 2010. Mobilities I: Catching
Up. Progress in Human Geography 35 (4): 550–558.
Cresswell, Tim 2012. Mobilities II: Still. Progress in
Human Geography 36 (5): 645–653.
Cresswell, Tim 2014. Mobilities III: Moving
on. Progress in Human Geography 38 (5): 712–721.
Das, Veena and Deborah Poole 2004. Anthropology
in the Margins of the State. Santa Fe: School of
Advanced Research.
Derrida, Jacques 1998 [1967]. Of Grammatology.
Baltimore: John Hopkins University.
Dowty, Alan 1987. Closed Borders: e Contemporary
Assault on Freedom of Movement. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
Easthope, Antony and Kate McGowan 2004.
A Critical and Cultural eory Reader. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.
Elias, Amanuel, Jehonathan Ben, Fethi Mansouri
and Yin Paradies 2021. Racism and Nationalism
During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Ethnic and Racial Studies 44 (5): 783–793.
Fabian, Johannes 2014. Time and the Other: How
Anthropology Makes its Object. New York: Columbia
University Press.
Faist, omas 2013. e Mobility Turn: A New
Paradigm for the Social Sciences? Ethnic and Racial
Studies 36 (11): 1637–1646.
Falzon, Mark Anthony 2015. Multisited Field
Studies. In James D. Wright (ed.). International
Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.
Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Findlay, Allan, David McCollum, Sergei Shubin,
Elina Apsite and Zaiga Krisjane 2013. e Role of
Recruitment Agencies in Imagining and Producing
the ‘Good’ Migrant. Social & Cultural Geography 14
(2): 145–167.
Foucault, Michel 1990 [1976]. e History of
Sexuality: Volume 1. New York: Vintage Books.
Foucault, Michel 1995 [1975]. Discipline and
Punish: e Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage
Galvan, Jose L. and Melissa C. Galvan 2017.
Writing Literature Reviews. New York: Routledge.
  |     26
Nicolas Parent
Glick Schiller, Nina 2010. A Global Perspective
on Transnational Migration: eorizing Migration
Without Methodological Nationalism. In Rainer
Bauböck and omas Faist (eds). Diaspora and
Transnationalism: Concepts, eories, and Methods.
Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
Glick Schiller, Nina 2015. Exploratory Frameworks
in Transnational Migration Studies: e Missing
Multi-Scalar Global Perspective. Ethnic and Racial
Studies 38 (13): 2275–2282.
Glick Schiller, Nina 2018. eorising Transnational
Migration in Our Times: A Multiscalar Temporal
Perspective. Nordic Journal of Migration Research
8 (4): 201–202.
Glick Schiller, Nina and Noel B. Salazar 2013.
Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe. Journal of
Ethnic and Migration Studies 39 (2): 183–200. https://
Graeber, David 2004. Fragments of an Anarchist
Anthropology. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Gupta, Akhil 1992. e Song of the Nonaligned
World: Transnational Identities and the
Reinscription of Space in Late Capitalism. Cultural
Anthropology 7 (1): 63–79.
Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson 1992. Beyond
‘Culture’: Space, Identity, and the Politics of
Dierence. Cultural Anthropology 7 (1): 6–23. https://
Hage, Ghassan 2005. A Not So Multi-Sited
Ethnography of a Not So Imagined Community.
Anthropological eory 5 (4): 463–475.
Hailey, Charlie 2009. Camps: A Guide to
21st-Century Space. Cambridge: MIT Press
Hammond, Laura 2004. is Place Will Become
Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia. Ithica:
Cornell University Press.
Hammond, Laura 2014. ‘Voluntary’ Repatriation
and Reintegration. In Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh,
Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona (eds).
e Oxford Handbook of Refugee & Forced Migration
Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hannam, Kevin, Mimi Sheller and John Urry 2006.
Mobilities, Immobilities and Moorings. Mobilities
1 (1): 1–22.
Harvey, David 1989. e Condition of Postmodernity.
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Hasselberg, Ines 2016. Enduring Uncertainty:
Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life. New
York: Berghahn Books.
Hyndman, Jennifer 2000. Managing Displacement:
Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hyndman, Jennifer and Wenona Giles 2016.
Refugees in Extended Exile: Living on the Edge.
London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.
Jackson, Michael 2016. Wherewithal of Life: Ethics,
Migration, and the Question of Well-Being. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Jansen, Stef and Staan Löfving (eds). 2008.
Struggles for Home: Violence, Hope and the Movement
of People. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Kelly, Robert L. 1992. Mobility/sedentism:
Concepts, Archaeological Measures, and Eects.
Annual Review of Anthropology 21 (1): 43–66. https://
Kokot, Waltraud 2007. Culture and Space: Anthro-
pological Approaches. EthnoScripts 9 (1): 10–23.
Lelièvre, Michelle A. and Maureen E. Marshall
2015. ‘Because Life it Selfe is But Motion’: Toward
an Anthropology of Mobility. Anthropological eory
15 (4): 434–471.
Lems, Annika 2016. Placing Displacement: Place-
making in a World of Movement. Ethnos 81 (2):
Levitt, Peggy 2009. Roots and Routes: Under-
standing the Lives of the Second Generation
Transnationally. Journal of Ethnic and Migration
Studies 35 (7): 1225–1242.
  |     27
Nicolas Parent
Levitt, Peggy and Nina Glick Schiller 2004.
Conceptualizing Simultaneity: A Transnational
Social Field Perspective on Society. International
Migration Review 38 (3): 1002–1039.
Levitt, Peggy and Nadya Jaworsky 2007. Trans-
national Migration Studies: Past Developments
and Future Trends. Annual Review of Sociology
33 (1): 129–156.
Levitt, Peggy and Rafael de la Dehesa 2017.
Rethinking ‘Transnational Migration and the
Re-denition of the State’ or What to Do About
(Semi-)permanent Impermanence. Ethnic and Racial
Studies 40 (9): 1520–1526.
López-Alves, Fernando and Diane E. Johnson
2018. Populist Nationalism in Europe and the Americas.
New York: Routledge.
Malkki, Liisa H. 1992. National Geographic: e
Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of
National Identity Among Scholars and Refugees.
Cultural Anthropology 7 (1): 24–44.
Malkki, Liisa, H. 1994. Citizens of Humanity:
Internationalisms and the Imagined Community of
Nations. Diaspora 3 (1): 41–67.
Malkki, Liisa H. 1995a. Refugees and Exile: From
‘Refugee Studies’ to the National Order of ings.
Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1): 495–523.
Malkki, Liisa H. 1995b. Purity and Exile: Violence,
Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu
Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago: University of Chicago
Maple, Nicholas, Susan Reardon-Smith
and Richard Black 2021. Immobility and the
Containment of Solutions: Reections on the Global
Compacts, Mixed Migration and the Transformation
of Protection. International Journal of Postcolonial
Studies 23 (2): 326–347.
Massey, Doreen 1993. Power-geometry and a
Progressive Sense of Place. In Jon Bird, Barry Curtis,
Tim Putnam, George Robertson and Lisa Tickner
(eds). Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global
Change. London: Routledge.
Massey, Doreen 1994. Space, Place, and Gender.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Massey, Doreen 1999. Imagining Globalization:
Power-geometrics of Time-space. In Brah Avtar,
Mary J. Hickman and Máirtin Mac an Ghaill
(eds). Global Futures: Migration, Environment and
Globalization. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://
Mihelj, Sabina and César Jiménez-Martínez
2020. Digital Nationalism: Understanding the Role
of Digital Media in the Rise of ‘New’ Nationalism.
Nations and Nationalism 27 (2): 331–346.
Minh-Ha, Trinh T. 1991. When the Moon Waxes
Red: Representation, Gender, and Cultural Politics.
Abingdon: Routledge.
Moran, Dominique, Jennifer Turner and Anna
K. Schliehe 2018. Conceptualizing the Carceral in
Carceral Geography. Progress in Human Geography
42 (5): 666–686.
Munn, Nancy D. 1996. Excluded Spaces: e
Figure in the Australian Aboriginal Landscape.
Critical Inquiry 22 (3): 446–465.
Ortner, Sherry B. and Harriet Whitehead 1981.
Sexual Meanings: e Cultural Construction of Gender
and Sexuality. London: Cambridge University Press.
Parent, Nicolas 2021. Moving Beyond Borders:
Anarchist Political Ecology and Environmental
Displacement. In Jennifer Mateer, Simon Springer,
Marin Locret-Collet and Maleea Acker, Maleea
(eds). Energies Beyond the State: Anarchist Political
Ecology and the Liberation of Nature. Lanham:
Rowman & Littleeld.
Parent, Nicolas and François Sarazin 2020.
La liminalié et l’exile : Au-delà de l’étiquetage.
Perceptions 2 (Fall 2020): 25–29.
  |     28
Nicolas Parent
Paul, Anju Mary and Brenda S. A. Yeoh
2020. Methodological Innovations in Studying
Multinational Migrations. Geographical Research
58 (4): 355–364
Preston, Rosemary 1999. Researching Repatriation
and Reconstruction: Who is Researching What and
Why? In Richard Black and Khalid Koser (eds). e
End of the Refugee Cycle? Refugee Repatriation and
Reconstruction. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Ramji, Hasmita 2006. British Indians ‘Returning
Home’: An Exploration of Transnational Belongings.
Sociology 40 (4): 645–662.
Ramsay, Georgina 2019. Time and the Other in
Crisis: How Anthropology Makes its Displaced
Object. Anthropological eory 20 (4): 385–413.
Richardson, Tim 2013. Borders and Mobilities:
Introduction to the Special Issue. Mobilities 8 (1):
Rodier, Claire 2013. e Externalisation of
Migration Controls. Shifting Borders: Externalising
Migrants Vulnerabilities and Rights? Brussels:
International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies.
and-rights <Accessed 24 March 2022>
Rodman, Margaret C. 1992. Empowering
Place: Multilocality and Multivocality. American
Anthropologist 94 (3): 640–656.
Rosaldo, Renato 1988. Ideology, Place, and People
Without Culture. Cultural Anthropology 3 (1): 77–87.
Rosati, Clayton 2017. Cultural Turn. In Douglas
Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild,
Audrey Lynn Kobayashi, Weidong Liu, and Richard
A. Marston (eds). International Encyclopedia of
Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and
Technology. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Said, Edward W. 1978. Orientalism. New York:
Pantheon Books.
Salazar, Noel B. 2011. e Power of Imagination in
Transnational Mobilities. Identities 18 (6): 576–598.
Salazar, Noel B. 2013. Anthropology. In Peter
Adey, David Bissel, Kevin Hannam, Peter Merriman
and Mimi Sheller (eds). e Routledge Handbook of
Mobilities. New York: Routledge.
Salazar, Noel B., Alice Elliot and Roger
Norum 2017. Introduction: Studying Mobilities:
eoretical Notes and Methodological Queries.
In Alice Elliot, Roger Norum and Noel B. Salazar
(eds). Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and
Experiment. New York: Berghahn Books.
Schewel, Kerilyn D. 2020. Understanding
Immobility: Moving Beyond the Mobility Bias in
Migration Studies. International Migration Review
54 (2): 328–355.
Sheller, Mimi and John Urry 2006. e New
Mobilities Paradigm. Environment and Planning A:
Economy and Space 38 (2): 207–226.
Sivaramakrishnan, Kalyanakrishnan and Ismael
Vaccaro 2006. Postindustrial Natures: Hyper-
mobility and Place-attachments. Social Anthropology
14 (3): 301–317.
Smith, Merrill 2004. Warehousing Refugees: A
Denial of Rights, a Waste of Humanity. In Merrill
Smith (ed.). World Refugee Survey. Washington:
United States Committee for Refugees and
Stepputat, Finn 1999. Dead Horses? Journal of
Refugee Studies 12 (4): 416–419.
Turner, Bryan S. 2007. e Enclave Society:
Towards a Sociology of Immobility. European Journal
of Social eory 10 (2): 287–304.
Turton, David 2005. e Meaning of Place in a
World of Movement: Lessons from Long-term Field
Research in Southern Ethiopia. Journal of Refugee
Studies 18 (3): 285–280.
  |     29
Nicolas Parent
Wimmer, Andreas and Nina Glick Schiller 2003.
Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences,
and the Study of Migration: An Essay in Historical
Epistemology. International Migration Review 37 (3):
Wolf, Eric 1982. Europe and the People Without
History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
While digital technologies were initially seen as harbingers of globalisation and cosmopolitanism, scholars increasingly acknowledge their role in the rise of nationalism and right‐wing populism. Yet this surge of interest leaves at least two important questions unanswered. Where was nationalism before its apparent resurgence? Are contemporary forms of nationalism different from their predecessors, and can these changes be linked to digital technologies? To answer these questions, we argue for the importance of understanding the less visible ways in which digital technologies reproduce our sense of belonging to a world of nations. We discuss three such mechanisms: the architecture of internet domains, the bias of algorithms and the formation of national digital ecosystems. Next, we examine three characteristics of contemporary nationalism that can be partly linked to recent shifts in the global communication ecology: diversification, fragmentation and commodification. We conclude by considering the implications of our arguments for future research in the field.
Full-text available
This article suggests that there is a mobility bias in migration research: by focusing on the “drivers” of migration — the forces that lead to the initiation and perpetuation of migration flows — migration theories neglect the countervailing structural and personal forces that restrict or resist these drivers and lead to different immobility outcomes. To advance a research agenda on immobility, it offers a definition of immobility, further develops the aspiration-capability framework as an analytical tool for exploring the determinants of different forms of (im)mobility, synthesizes decades of interdisciplinary research to help explain why people do not migrate or desire to migrate, and considers future directions for further qualitative and quantitative research on immobility.
Since negotiations began in 2015 on the two Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, many within academia have felt uncomfortable engaging with the processes. This reflects a general weariness around new international cooperation agreements, the perceived control over the two processes by key international agencies, and an apparent lack of postcolonial voices in the drafting and consultation stages. However, with both Compacts now adopted, there has been a marked increase in engagement within academia and policy circles. This postscript to the special issue reflects on the discussions presented in the essays and the Compacts more broadly. The focus is on two main themes that emerge when reading this special issue: (1) forms of protection; and (2) the concept of mixed migration. This essay finds that within both these two themes, attention continues to focus on protection and movement between states, rather than between regions. As such, it remains uncertain how the Compacts will be able to shift the dominance of self-serving policies imposed by the Global North. Nevertheless, the essay concludes by attempting to find some glimmers of optimism. Currently, there exists the political space (however slight) for various actors to try and utilize the Compacts to improve protection and opportunities for migrants who adopt mobility strategies – particularly for those who choose to move between global regions in this postcolonial era.
Displacement is typically approached in anthropology as an exceptional experience that is associated with refugees and forced migration. Recent representations of migration ‘crisis’ have reinforced the exceptionality attached to displacement. Drawing on research conducted with people in both refugee and non-refugee contexts, in this article I put forward a more expansive theorisation of displacement as a sense of temporal dispossession. Additionally, I describe how, by characterising refugees and other migrants as people who occupy a temporality that is distinguished by their migration status, anthropology denies coevalness with and between migrants and non-migrants and thereby reinforces the very logics of otherness that we might otherwise seek to critique. Recognising the shared temporal rhythms of displacement, and how these manifest broadly as the effects of global capitalism and neoliberal restructurings, is one way through which anthropologists can strengthen our analyses and critiques of bordering structures. We must firmly situate refugees and migrants within these shared rhythms of displacement, rather than exceptionalise them through the lens of ‘crisis’.
This book argues that the international refugee regime and its ‘temporary’ humanitarian interventions have failed. Most refugees across the global live in ‘protracted’ conditions that extend from years to decades, without legal status that allows them to work and establish a home. It is contended that they become largely invisible to people based in the global North, and cease to remain fully human subjects with access to their political lives. Shifting the conversation away from the salient discourse of ‘solutions’ and technical fixes within state-centric international relations, the authors recover the subjectivity lost for those stuck in extended exile. The book first argues that humanitarian assistance to refugees remains vital to people’s survival, even after the emergency phase is over. It then connects asylum politics in the global North with the intransigence of extended exile in the global South. By placing the urgent crises of protracted exile within a broader constellation of power relations, both historical and geographical, the authors present research and empirical findings gleaned from refugees in Iran, Kenya and Canada and from humanitarian and government workers. Each chapter reveals patterns of power circulating through the ‘colonial present’, Cold War legacies, and the global ‘war on terror”. Seeking to render legible the more quotidian struggles and livelihoods of people who find themselves defined as refugees, this book will be of great interest to international humanitarian agencies, as well as migration and refugee researchers, including scholars in refugee studies and human displacement, human security, globalization, immigration, and human rights.