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Migration as Survival

Withheld Stories and the Limits of Ethnographic Knowability

Gerhild Perl

Abstract

How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called “migration as survival” by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living through a life-threatening event and as living on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim “Other.” By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.

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Moving-with-Others

Restoring Viable Relations in Emigrant Gambia

Paolo Gaibazzi

Abstract

The article argues for an intersubjective understanding of mobility among aspirant migrants in the Gambia. Among other factors, Gambian young men's desire to reach Europe and other destinations may stem from an experience of dispersal and abandonment in migrant households. Emigration becomes a way of restoring the viability of relationships, in a socioeconomic sense of regenerating ties and flows between migrants and nonmigrants, as well as in an existential-kinetic sense of experiencing others as moving closer to oneself. By highlighting intersubjective mobility, the article contributes to widening the scope of an existential take on movement and stasis. It further revises popular and scholarly views on the role of families and migrants in shaping aspirations to emigrate.

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“My Visa Application Was Denied, I Decided to Go Anyway”

Interpreting, Experiencing, and Contesting Visa Policies and the (Im)mobility Regime in Algeria

Farida Souiah

Abstract

This article explores the ways people targeted by restrictive migration and mobility policies in Algeria experience, interpret, and contest them. It focuses on the perspective of harragas, literally “those who burn” the borders. In the Maghrebi dialects, this is notably how people leaving without documentation are referred to. It reflects the fact that they do not respect the mandatory steps for legal departure. Also, they figuratively “burn” their papers to avoid deportation once in Europe. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork, this article outlines the complex and ambiguous attitudes toward the legal mobility regime of those it aims to exclude: compliance, deception, delegitimization, and defiance. It contributes to debates about human experiences of borders and inequality in mobility regimes. It helps deepen knowledge on why restrictive migration and mobility policies fail and are often counterproductive, encouraging the undocumented migration they were meant to deter.

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Refuge and History

A Critical Reading of a Polemic

Benjamin Thomas White

Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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“Windrush Generation” and “Hostile Environment”

Symbols and Lived Experiences in Caribbean Migration to the UK

Huon Wardle and Laura Obermuller

Abstract

The Windrush scandal belongs to a much longer arc of Caribbean-British transmigration, forced and free. The genesis of the scandal can be found in the post–World War II period, when Caribbean migration was at first strongly encouraged and then increasingly harshly constrained. This reflection traces the effects of these changes as they were experienced in the lives of individuals and families. In the Caribbean this recent scandal is understood as extending the longer history of colonial relations between Britain and the Caribbean and as a further reason to demand reparations for slavery. Experiences of the Windrush generation recall the limbo dance of the middle passage; the dancer moves under a bar that is gradually lowered until a mere slit remains.

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Book Reviews

Sabina Barone, Veronika Bernard, Teresa S Büchsel, Leslie Fesenmyer, Bruce Whitehouse, Petra Molnar, Bonny Astor, and Olga R. Gulina

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Book Reviews

Rosa E. Ficek, Shanshan Lan, Walter Gam Nkwi, Sarah Walker, and Paula Soto Villagrán

Decentering the State in Automobility Regimes

Kurt Beck, Gabriel Klaeger, and Michael Stasik, eds., The Making of an African Road (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 278 pp., 34 illustrations, $78 (paperback)

Understanding Globalization from Below in China

Gordon Mathews, with Linessa Dan Lin and Yang Yang, The World in Guangzhou: Africans and Other Foreigners in South China’s Global Marketplace (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 256 pp., $27.50 (paperback)

Rethinking Mobility and Innovation: African Perspectives

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, ed., What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 256 pp., 25 black-and-white illustrations, $36 (paperback)

When Is a Crisis Not a Crisis? The Illegalization of Mobility in Europe

Nicholas De Genova, ed., The Borders of “Europe”: Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 376 pp., $27.95 (paperback)

City, Mobility, and Insecurity: A Mobile Ethnography of Beirut

Kristin V. Monroe, The Insecure City: Space, Power, and Mobility in Beirut (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016), 204 pp., 7 photographs, $27.95 (paperback)

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Echoes of Colonial Logic in Re-Ordering “Public” Streets

From Colonial Rangoon to Postcolonial Yangon

Beth E. Notar, Kyaw San Min, and Raju Gautam

This article investigates three historical moments in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar) when the city has restricted certain forms of mobility. The first occurred in 1920, when British authorities restricted rickshaws pulled by Indian laborers. The second was in 1960, when the military “caretaker government” sought to sideline pedicabs and horse carts as part of an urban “cleanup” campaign. The third happened in 2017, when city authorities under a new democratic government sought to limit the number of taxis and allow digital ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab to operate in the city. Despite three very different forms of government, the later discourses eerily echo the exclusionary logic that certain forms of migrant driven mobility need to be cleared away for more “modern” mobility.

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Editorial

Dagmar Schäfer

How important are regional foci in a world that is defined by transfers and mobilities? This issue of Transfers features a special section that addresses this question and provides varied answers on the role regions play in the understanding of modernity, power, and practices of moving. The call for the special section, “Asia on the Move,” went out in spring 2017. Since then, questions of mobilities, migration, and transfers have not only gained increasing attention and importance, they have also been met with resistance by local groups, in politics and social development—often, in the global point of view, from quite unexpected directions, as in the case of Myanmar and Rohinga migration in 2018.

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Education and Hospitality in Liminal Locations for Unaccompanied Refugee Youths in Lesvos

Ivi Daskalaki and Nadina Leivaditi

ABSTRACT

The closure of borders along the “Balkan route” and the EU-Turkey agreement in 2016 resulted in the involuntary immobility of thousands of refugees in Greece. Since then, the large-scale emergency relief aid on the Greek shores has been replaced by the development of provisions for the gradual integration of refugees within wider European society. In such a context, education comes to the fore in the management of Europe’s so-called “refugee crisis.” This article explores refugee youths’ educational engagements in the framework of their “temporary” accommodation in a Transit Shelter for Unaccompanied (Male) Minors on the island of Lesvos. The article discusses how the youths themselves act upon educational arrangements made by their caretakers within a context of limited agency inscribed in a “code” of filoxenia (hospitality to foreigners). This code positions refugee youths both as temporary “guests” and simultaneously as “subjects” of discipline in the residency and in wider society.