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Book Reviews

Shavagne Scott, Walter Goettlich, Sheila Petty, Wang Yanjun, Chimwemwe Phiri, and Larissa Kopytoff

Julius S. Scott, The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution (New York: Verso Books, 2018), 272 pp. $34.95.

Carl Middleton, Rebecca Elmhirst, and Supang Chantavanich, eds., Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change (New York: Routledge, 2018), 202 pp. $160.00 (hardback).

Cajetan Iheka and Jack Taylor, eds., African Migration Narratives: Politics, Race, and Space (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press/Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2018), 310 pp., ten black and white illustrations. $125.00.

Jie Zhang, Cultural Politics of Railways (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2018, in Chinese), 310 pp., eight illustrations. ¥88.00.

Markku Hokkanen, Medicine, Mobility and the Empire: Nyasaland Networks, 1859–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 288 pp. £80.

Natasha Pairaudeau, Mobile Citizens: French Indians in Indochina, 1858–1954 (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2016), 370 pp., three maps, eighteen illustrations, two tables. £25.

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Desperate Aspirations among Paraguayan Youths

The Renegotiation of Migration and Rural Futures

Corinna Land


This article explores how young Paraguayan migrants, returnees, and not-yet-migrants negotiate contradicting aspirations and desperations that they attach to urban and rural spaces in the present and future. While a protracted crisis of small-scale agriculture in Paraguay increases pressure to migrate, the economic crisis in Argentina challenges the established migration trajectories between rural Paraguay and Buenos Aires. The article shows how young adults continuously weigh up current living conditions and future prospects both “here” and “there” and are torn between leaving, staying, or returning. Based on multi-sited ethnographic field research, it reconstructs the ways in which they navigate between four ambiguous aspirations: security, advancement, belonging, and attachment. Whereas rural out-migration of young people is often interpreted as a yearning for modern city life, the analysis reveals that both rural and urban areas are linked with aspirations as well as desperations.

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Eco-Aesthetics and Climate Change

Poetic Reflections

Rodanthi Tzanelli

Environmental sustainability and ecological aesthetics experience a turbulent affair when academic language is replaced by an artistic register: can we articulate contemporary crises stemming from uncontrolled mobilities, such as hyper-consumption, hyper-automobilities, and technological pollution, better by replacing sociological analysis with affective poetic language? The following poem (unpublished but belonging to the theme of Altermodernities: A Traveller's Notes, book 1: Anthropocene Entanglements) explores what this transition offers to a “public sociology” of modernity that relays theory to multiple publics in alternative visual and textual styles.

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Stéphanie Ponsavady

This issue of Transfers showcases the first part of a thought-provoking special section edited by Supurna Banerjee (Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata) and Eva Gerharz (Fulda University of Applied Sciences). The collection of articles uses the interrelation between aspiration and desperation as a powerful analytical framework to interrogate the relationships between mobility, immobility, migration, and sedentarization. By confronting these termpairs, they also seek to deconstruct their seemingly antinomic associations. The contributions interrogate them beyond binary opposition and bring to light new connections. The second part of the special section, which will focus on negotiating aspirations in intimate social relations, as well as the response to the project will be published in an upcoming volume of our journal.

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Healthy Mobilities

Sarah L. Bell and Simon Cook


In this article, we articulate a distinct conceptual direction at the intersection of health and mobilities scholarship that centers on healthy mobilities. We take inspiration from relational, multiscalar, and more-than-human approaches to foreground an approach that asks what being in everyday healthy motion may entail and whose health is considered. We trace this approach through two brief provocations: exercise and differential mobilities, including the finely tuned movement-repertoires developed by disabled people. These illustrate the value of healthy mobilities, beyond humancentric, cure-oriented approaches to health, to understandings of how health takes shape among diverse living entities in motion. This focus can help foreground the interdependence of human, nonhuman, and planetary health in mobilities.

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Interrogating Aspirations through Migratory Mobilities

Supurna Banerjee and Eva Gerharz

While questions focused around social, economic, and physical movement have long been central to human lives, state policies, and economic regimes, the ‘mobility turn’ in academic scholarship has often seen a straightforward association of mobility as an upward trajectory mitigating socioeconomic inequality, as well as equating physical movement emerging from migration with mobility. Here, however, we argue that the relationship between migration and mobility is hardly so automatic, and needs to be considered in its complexities and contradictions. Rather than uncritically celebrating mobility, we consider it as a lens through which disruptions, inequalities, differential access, and the role of identities can be understood.

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Novel Reviews

Taryn Tavener-Smith and Tom Rowe

David Mitchell, Slade House (London: Sceptre, 2015), 233 pp. £6.99

Musa Okwonga, In the End, It Was All about Love (London: Rough Trade Books, 2021), 98 pp. £11.99

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The Post-Deportation Desperation and Refunneling of Aspirations of the Mexicans Deported from the United States

Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna


This article uses Carling's aspiration/ability model and the social anchoring concept proposed by Grzymala-Kazlowska to explain the post-deportation experience of Mexicans deported from the United States of America. I analyze how deported people's aspirations are shaped by US migration policies and by their families, as well as by local community obligations. The data comes from seven years of longitudinal research in a rural community in Oaxaca. I conclude that under the immobility regime produced by the US for the deported Mexicans, their aspirations of remigration evolve into desperation. Often unable to remigrate to the US, they are stuck in a limbo of desperation until they refunnel their aspirations and anchor them in Mexico. At the same time, they resynchronize their life courses with other community members.

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“Who Leaves Home If There is a Choice?”

Migration Decisions of Women Workers on Tea Plantations in India

Supurna Banerjee


The Dooars tea plantations in India were colonial enterprises set up through recruiting a migrant workforce from Central India. Against the background of the crisis in the Indian tea industry in the early 2000s, and the resulting migration of workers to the cities to join various casual workforces, this article questions the dualities in the framework of migration/displacement and aspiration/ desperation. Through mapping the migration decisions of women workers from the plantations, the article traces the ways in which aspiration often follows from migration rather than predating it. Inheriting a history of displacement as migrant labor brought from Central India, the aspiration expressed is often that of belonging. The article then interrogates how the narratives of displacements feature in narratives of aspiration. The migration strategies are not uniform among all the women, but vary across their life stages and accordingly the possibilities and limitations post-migration differ.

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Book Reviews

Sandra Dinter, Weipin Tsai, and Freke Caset

Kerri Andrews, Wanderers: A History of Women Walking (London: Reaktion Books, 2020), 303 pp., £14.99.

Nanny Kim, Mountain Rivers, Mountain Roads: Transport in Southwest China, 1700–1850 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2019), xxvi, 621 pp, €149/$179

Karen Chapple and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019), 347 pp., 67 black-and-white illustrations, $40.00.