Special Topics in Cultural Anthropology: Mobility and Displacement

What does it mean to belong, or not to belong? What does it mean to be mobile? What is a home, a homeland, home country, or nation? How do experiences of migration, exile, and displacement shift one’s understanding of home? Warfare, statecraft, and political violence, and recent environmental and social disasters, are giving rise to forms of belonging, mobility, and displacement that do not fit within traditional categories. War and political violence destabilize national borders while reinforcing structures of power that bolster or mimic nation-state forms. Environmental disaster and poverty cause displacements that cannot be classified purely in terms of either “economic” or “forced” migration, but produce composite categories which, as of yet, have no formal legal foothold, such as “economic” or “environmental” refugees. While popular culture often heralds the rise of multiculturalism in a globalized world, there are also alarming signals (surveillance, strategies of “profiling,” increasing militarization of borders, and race-related violence) that suggest that ideas of blood and territory continue as powerful delineators of inclusion and exclusion. This course asks how belonging, mobility, and displacement take shape amid political violence; global migrations of
people, capital, and ideas; social inequalities; new forms of political organization and governance (international, grass-roots, supranational); and the continued dominance of nation-states.

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Heath Cabot

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Category C: Cultural Antagonisms and Cultural Crises

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