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Walking as a Metaphor

COVID Pandemic and the Politics of Mobility

Avishek Ray

Abstract

This article reflects on the dissenting act of mobility as articulated by migrant workers in India, who, during the nationwide lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, are walking back home, hundreds of miles away, in lieu of public transport. Their mobility—precisely, the act of walking—has thus acquired a metaphoric status, and laid bare the ideological practices of territorializing the city-space. This article argues that the migrant worker's mobility, from within the axiomatic of the prevalent “mobility regime,” can be read as a powerful metaphor of our tensions within the global political-economic order that the pandemic has so starkly exposed. The article provokes less literal, but more literary, understandings of mobilities in general, in order to come to grips with the manifold contradictions, paradoxes, and counteractions in the way the world moves.

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Djénéba Traoré

Abstract

This article addresses the commitments of ECOWAS to citizen perspectives, and it underlines the added value of scientific research in the successful achievement of regional integration for West Africans. Specifically, it asks, how can the effectiveness and relevance of academic studies be used to enhance economic growth and social development? The creation of the West Africa Institute (WAI), a research center and think tank dedicated to regional integration and social transformations, was a major step in the search for adequate local and regional development solutions fitting with the West African context. WAI works with a participatory approach, promoting free debates among policy makers, open spaces for dialogue, and exchange among all social actors concerned with issues of regional integration and social transformation.

Resumen

Este artículo analiza los compromisos de la CEDEAO en términos de perspectivas ciudadanas y enfatiza el valor agregado de la investigación científica en el éxito de la integración regional para África Occidental. Específicamente, pregunta cómo la eficiencia y relevancia de los estudios universitarios pueden usarse para mejorar el crecimiento económico y el desarrollo social. La creación del Instituto de África Occidental (IAO) fue un paso importante en la búsqueda de soluciones para un desarrollo apropiado, adaptado a los contextos local y regional de África Occidental. La IAO trabaja con un enfoque participativo promoviendo el flujo libre de debates entre los tomadores de decisiones y espacios abiertos para el diálogo e intercambio entre todos los actores sociales interesados en temas de integración regional y transformación social.

Résumé

Cet article traite des engagements de la CEDEAO en matière de perspectives citoyennes et met l'accent sur la valeur ajoutée de la recherche scientifique dans la réussite de l'intégration régionale pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest. Plus précisément, il étudie comment l'efficacité et la pertinence de la recherche scientifique peuvent être utilisées pour améliorer la croissance économique et le développement social. La création de l'Institut de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (IAO), un centre de recherche et un groupe de réflexion dédié à l'intégration régionale et aux transformations sociales, a été une étape majeure dans la recherche de solutions de développement local et régional adéquates adaptées au contexte ouest-africain. L'IAO travaille avec une approche participative, favorisant la libre circulation des débats entre les décideurs et des espaces ouverts pour le dialogue et l'échange entre tous les acteurs sociaux concernés par les questions d'intégration régionale et de transformation sociale.

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Whither the people in the ASEAN Community?

Prospects in regional community building above and below the state

See Seng Tan

Abstract

The longstanding effort to develop a people-based regionalism in Southeast Asia has been shaped by an inherent tension between the liberal inclination to privilege the individual and the community under formation, on the one hand, and the realist insistence on the primacy of the state, on the other. This article explores the conditions and constraints affecting ASEAN's progress in remaking Southeast Asia into a people-focused and caring community in three areas: disaster management, development, and democratization (understood here as human rights). Arguably, the persistent gap in Southeast Asia between aspiration and expectation is determined less by political ideology than by the pragmatic responses of ASEAN member states to the forces of nationalism and protectionism, as well as their respective sense of local and regional responsibility.

Resumen

El esfuerzo histórico para desarrollar un regionalismo basado en las personas del sudeste de Asia ha estado marcado por una tensión fundamental entre la inclinación liberal de privilegiar el individuo y la comunidad y la insistencia realista sobre la primacía del estado. Este artículo explora las condiciones y limitaciones que afectan el progreso de la ASEAN en la reestructuración de Asia sudoriental en una comunidad centrada en el cuidado de las personas en: gestión de desastres, desarrollo y democratización (i.e., derechos humanos). La brecha persistente en el sudeste asiático entre la aspiración y la expectativa está determinada por las respuestas pragmáticas de los miembros de la ASEAN sometidos a las fuerzas del nacionalismo y proteccionismo, así como su respectivo sentido de responsabilidad local y regional.

Résumé

L'effort historique pour développer un régionalisme fondé sur les peuples en Asie du Sud-Est a été marqué par une tension fondamentale entre l'inclination libérale qui privilégie, d'une part, l'individu et la communauté et, d'autre part, l'insistance réaliste sur la primauté de l'État. Cet article explore les conditions et les contraintes qui nuisent aux progrès de l'ANASE dans le cadre d'une refonte de l'Asie du Sud-Est en une communauté centrée et attentive aux peuples dans trois domaines : la gestion des désastres, le développement et la démocratisation (en référence aux droits humains). Le fossé persistant en Asie du Sud-Est entre les aspirations et les attentes est vraisemblablement moins déterminé par l'idéologie politique que par les réponses pragmatiques des États membres de l'ANASE soumis aux forces du nationalisme et du protectionnisme ainsi que par leur sens respectif de la responsabilité locale et régionale.

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Why Railroads Now?

Anthropology of Infrastructure and Debates around “Green” Transit

Heather Anne Swanson

As the introduction to this special issue points out, railroads are a relatively new object of attention for anthropologists. My response dives more substantially into the question of why they are such compelling sites in this present moment. What does the growing interest in railroads—exemplified by this collection of articles—tell us about current anthropological concerns, as well as about how the discipline might further contribute to wider debates about the politics of infrastructures? The first half of this response considers railroads within academic trajectories, while the second half examines them in relation to wider environmental conversations, especially ongoing public debates about climate-friendly transit.

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Barriers and borders

Human mobility and building inclusive societies

Anthony Turton

Open access

Julien Brachet, Victoria L. Klinkert, Cory Rodgers, Robtel Neajai Pailey, Elieth Eyebiyi, Rachel Benchekroun, Grzegorz Micek, Natasha N. Iskander, Aydan Greatrick, Alexandra Bousiou, and Anne White

Open access

Suranjana Choudhury

Abstract

The Partition of 1947 is a seminal episode in the history of the Indian subcontinent. Partition is still a living reality; it continues to define the everydayness of lives in the partitioned states. Memory is an important topic in the field of Partition Studies: the act of remembering and the subject of remembrance illuminate our understanding of Partition in more ways than one. Personal memories hold special significance in this regard. This article comprises two personal memory pieces on the cascading effects of Partition in individuals’ lives. The first story is a retelling of my grandmother's experience of displacement and her subsequent relocation in newly formed India. The story brings forth memories associated with her wedding jewelry box, which she brought with her across the border. The second story focuses on the life experiences of my domestic helper, a second generation recipient of Partition memories.

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Coronavirus with “Nobody in Charge”

An open reflection on leadership, solidarity, and contemporary regional integration

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Open access

Decolonial Approaches to Refugee Migration

Nof Nasser-Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab in Conversation

Nof Nasser-Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab

Abstract

In this conversation, Nof Nasser Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab—the founders and directors of the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration (CTDC)—discuss the importance of decolonial approaches to studying refugee migration. In so doing, they draw on their research, consultancy, and advocacy work at CTDC, a London-based intersectional multidisciplinary Feminist Consultancy that focuses in particular on dynamics in Arabic-speaking countries and that has a goal to build communities and movements, through an approach that is both academic and grassroots-centred. CTDC attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice through its innovative-ly transformative programmes, which include mentorship, educational programmes, trainings, and research.

Nof and Nour's conversation took place in November 2019 and was structured by questions sent to them in advance by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. What follows is a transcript of the conversation edited by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Mette L. Berg.

Open access

Dirty Work, Dangerous Others

The Politics of Outsourced Immigration Enforcement in Mexico

Wendy Vogt

Abstract

While Mexico has been openly critical of US immigration enforcement policies, it has also served as a strategic partner in US efforts to externalize its immigration enforcement strategy. In 2016, Mexico returned twice as many Central Americans as did the United States, calling many to criticize Mexico for doing the United States’ “dirty work.” Based on ethnographic research and discourse analysis, this article unpacks and complicates the idea that Mexico is simply doing the “dirty work” of the United States. It examines how, through the construction of “dirty others”—as vectors of disease, criminals, smugglers, and workers—Central Americans come to embody “matter out of place,” thus threatening order, security, and the nation itself. Dirt and dirtiness, in both symbolic and material forms, emerge as crucial organizing factors in the politics of Central American transit migration, providing an important case study in the dynamics between transit and destination states.