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Hope and Sorrow of Displacement

Diasporic Art and Finding Home in Exile

Mediya Rangi

Rushdi Anwar is a Kurdish artist in exile who references his personal experiences of genocide, situated within the modern history of his homeland, Kurdistan, to reflect on the region’s sociopolitical issues. His conceptual art demonstrates that exilic consciousness may be articulated and continuously developed through diasporic artistic expressions. Rushdi’s artwork installation ‘Irhal [Expel] – Hope and Sorrow of Displacement’ (2014–2015) aims to draw attention to the commonalities of human experience by narrating the journey from sorrow to hope. It invites audiences to understand displacement from a common perspective, the search for a safe home. Through a Deleuzian lens, this article explores Rushdi’s nomadic journey by looking at his diasporic artwork that connects the Australian context with the global crisis of conflict and displacement.

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Between Labor Migration and Forced Displacement

Wartime Mobilities in the Burkina Faso–Côte d’Ivoire Transnational Space

Jesper Bjarnesen

The significant number of involuntary returns of labor migrants to Burkina Faso is a relatively neglected aspect of the armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. Between 500,000 and 1 million Burkinabe migrants were forced to leave Côte d’Ivoire between 2000 and 2007, placing tremendous pressure on local communities in Burkina Faso to receive and integrate these mass arrivals, and causing those returning labor migrants an acute sense of displacement. Th is article analyzes the experiences of displacement and resettlement in the context of the Ivorian crisis and explores the dialectics of displacement and emplacement in the lives of involuntary labor migrant returnees; their young adult children; and Burkinabe recruits returning aft er their service in the Forces Nouvelles rebel forces in Côte d’Ivoire.

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Anthropology and Displacement

Culture, Communication and Computers Applied to a Real World Problem

Stephen M. Lyon and Michael Fischer

Displacement following natural disasters brings about both short- and long-term issues that urban planners must address. While we recognize that many (though not all) aspects of the short-term plans may not require extensive anthropological insights, the long-term plans, on the contrary, do. We suggest in this article that one of the most important contributions anthropologists can make is producing formal models of indigenous knowledge systems (which are derived from underlying cultural systems) and identifying the ways in which such systems are communicated. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach which borrows from developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and multi-agent modelling (MAM), we argue that many of the tools that such disciplines have produced can serve an important role in long-range planning for the coexistence of disparate communities if they are adequately informed by anthropological understandings of the communities involved. We briefly outline the anthropology of communication and the culture concept before turning our attention to something that AI and MAM researchers have dubbed ontologies to suggest that it is possible to model cultural systems in dynamic ways that enable sociocultural models of communities which are simultaneously resilient and robust. We give a concrete example of such a cultural system (izzat or 'honour' in South Asia) and demonstrate what an ontology of such a system might look like.

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Mega-Plantations in Southeast Asia

Landscapes of Displacement

Miles Kenney-Lazar and Noboru Ishikawa

This article reviews a wide body of literature on the emergence and expansion of agro-industrial, monoculture plantations across Southeast Asia through the lens of megaprojects. Following the characterization of megaprojects as displacement, we define mega-plantations as plantation development that rapidly and radically transforms landscapes in ways that displace and replace preexisting human and nonhuman communities. Mega-plantations require the application of large amounts of capital and political power and the transnational organization of labor, capital, and material. They emerged in Southeast Asia under European colonialism in the nineteenth century and have expanded again since the 1980s at an unprecedented scale and scope to feed global appetites for agro-industrial commodities such as palm oil and rubber. While they have been contested by customary land users, smallholders, civil society organizations, and even government regulators, their displacement and transformation of Southeast Asia’s rural landscapes will likely endure for quite some time.

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The Meanings of the Move?

From “Predicaments of Mobility” to “Potentialities in Displacement”

Stephen C. Lubkemann

In this article I draw comparatively on ethnographic material from my work with war-affected populations from postcolonial Mozambique and diasporan Liberia to argue for a fundamental shift in the conceptualization and study of displacement. I argue first for a need to shift from an emphasis on physical mobility as the sine qua non of “displacement,” to an empirical investigation of the less-than-self-evident relationship between physical mobility and social mobility. I illustrate how the meanings and outcomes of physical mobility are far from given but must be treated as an empirical problem, in which the social opportunity structures that cultural agents ultimately navigate are reconfigured in complex, contradictory, and inadvertent ways that simultaneously generate new and socially differentiated challenges as well as opportunities.

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Giving Aid Inside the Home

Humanitarian House Visits, Performative Refugeehood, and Social Control of Syrians in Jordan

Ann-Christin Wagner

Through a hospitality lens, the article looks at an Evangelical grassroots organization’s practice of house visits to Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan. It begins by situating the hosting practices of European volunteers in the context of Mafraq’s multi-layered NGO environment and within the emerging literature on the role of transnational support networks in faith-based humanitarianism. A review of philosophical and anthropological literatures reveals how power dynamics and bordering practices shape the hospitality encounter. Its function as a scale-shifter between the local and the national makes “hospitality” well-suited for the study of displacement. Subsequent parts of the article explore volunteers’ acts of infringement on Syrians’ hospitality code that allow them to “contain” refugees’ demands for aid. The final section revisits Boltanski’s theory of a “politics of pity” in communicating distant suffering. The set-up of house visits forces refugees to perform “suffering” which provides the raw material for volunteers’ moving testimonies back home.

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Offshore Desires

Mobility, Liquidity and History in Shakespeare’s Mediterranean

Rui Carvalho Homem

This article probes the ability of Shakespearean drama to provide expressive resources for coming to terms (conceptually, discursively) with current crises. These include both the power games of global finance, and those disasters that ostensibly concern other strands of geopolitics. The article focuses on two plays, The Comedy of Errors and Pericles, the actions of which unfold in the eastern Mediterranean – an area of the world associated, in the late modern imagination, either with mobility as pleasure (mass tourism and its apparatus) or mobility as crisis (disputed territories, the plight of displaced populations). It highlights the close bonds between prevalent modes – satire and farce in The Comedy of Errors, romance in Pericles – and the plays’ distinct strategies for representing human mobility: the sense of agency proper to acquisitive urges, the victimhood of forced displacement.

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"The Master Plan is a Master Killer"

Land dispossession and powerful resistance in Oromia, Ethiopia

Gutu Olana Wayessa

English abstract: Land is a key resource and an epicenter of struggle in Ethiopia, as indicated by the incident that sparked a powerful protest in Oromia in 2015. The protest quickly galvanized against the Addis Ababa Master Plan, which government officials represented as a “development plan,” while the protesters counter-framed it as a “Master Killer,” highlighting the immanent risks of land dispossession and displacement of people. This article employs a political-ecological approach to examine environmental, socio-cultural, and political-economic implications of the Master Plan and the resistance against it as a signifier of wider issues of contestation connected to land and displacement. It highlights contemporary grievances of the Oromo people in relation to unresolved historical questions and outlines the responses of the government to the protest.

Spanish abstract: La tierra es un recurso clave y un epicentro de lucha en Etiopía. En el 2015 surgió una poderosa protesta en Oromia contra el Plan Maestro de Addis Abeba, presentado por el gobierno como un “plan de desarrollo”, mientras que los manifestantes lo enmarcaron como un “Asesino Maestro”, destacando los inminentes riesgos de la desposesión de tierras y el desplazamiento de personas. Este artículo emplea un enfoque político-ecológico para examinar las implicaciones ambientales, socioculturales y político-económicas del Plan Maestro y la resistencia en su contra como resultado de temas más amplios de disputa relacionados con la tierra y el desplazamiento. Destaca las quejas contemporáneas de la gente de Oromo en relación con preguntas históricas no resueltas y describe las respuestas del gobierno a la protesta.

French abstract: La terre est une ressource clef et un motif central de conflit en Éthiopie. Les circonstances actuelles du pays accentuent cette tendance historique. En témoigne la protestation des Oromos contre le Programme Directeur d’Addis-Abeba que les fonctionnaires présentent comme un programme de développement alors que les protestataires le désignent comme “un maître-tueur”, en pointant les risques de dépossession de la terre et de déplacement de populations qui lui sont inhérents. Cet article utilise une approche d’écologie politique pour examiner ses implications dans le sens d’une protestation autour de la terre et du déplacement. Il analyse le programme directeur et la protestation des Oromos dans le cadre des principes idéologiques et structurels du gouvernement, de ses politiques et de ses pratiques.

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Introduction

Flight and Exile—Uncertainty in the Context of Conflict-Induced Displacement

Cindy Horst and Katarzyna Grabska

This introduction addresses the ways in which flight and exile create particular types of uncertainty, including both radical and protracted, in people's lives. We argue that the concept of uncertainty, in its meaning of imperfect knowledge and the unpredictability of the future, is central to studies that theorize conflict-induced displacement, transit, and refugeeness. We start with an exploration of the spatial and temporal aspects of uncertainty in situations of displacement, and within that we discuss how uncertainty functions as a governing mechanism. We then analyze the ways that refugees and those internally displaced navigate situations of radical and protracted uncertainty. This article and those that follow in this special issue suggest that in our analysis of conflict-induced displacement, we must understand uncertainty rather than certainty as the norm.

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“And When I Become a Man”

Translocal Coping with Precariousness and Uncertainty among Returnee Men in South Sudan

Katarzyna Grabska and Martha Fanjoy

In this article, we argue that return in the aftermath of conflict-induced displacement is often undertaken in contexts of uncertainty. After years spent in war and displacement, people return to an unknown and uncertain present and future, shaped by ideal images of home and brutal memories of conflict. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among South Sudanese refugees in Kenya and Canada and returnees in South Sudan, we analyze the 'return home' strategies, motivations, and experiences of returnee men. We suggest that uncertainty often transforms the present and the future of returning populations and the societies to which they return. Our research shows that in their attempts to minimize their wartime and displacement uncertainties, returnee men transform, negotiate, and reconstruct national, ethnic, and gender identities in a variety of ways, depending on their age and experiences in exile.