25 March 2019, Centre for Spatial Environmental and Cultural Politics, University of Brighton

Migrations and mobility related to conflicts, large-scale urbanization, climate-change, environmental degradation, and vast economic inequalities between the global South and North are an urgent issue of our time—engaging governments, international law and politics, advocacy and activism. These problems involve both human and non-human interactions with changing environments, for example, caravans of migrants walking through Central America to the United States, decline of wildlife populations, and changing patterns of bird and animal migration. While many researchers in social, environmental and biological disciplines are studying changing environments, habitat loss, population growth, and ethnic and cultural diversity, there is a need for integrated frameworks and understandings which may, in turn, inform the development of expert competencies around the multi-facted nature of such problems.

This interdisciplinary symposium proposes the motile logic of human/non-human relations, taken both separately and together, as an interesting vantage-point to investigate the cultural and political shaping of forms of connectivity and displacement, permanence and provisionality, transition and transformation. Drawing upon key developments in natural and social sciences and humanities around migration, mobilities, and human/non-human relations, the symposium will bring together perspectives from different disciplines (e.g. anthropology, geography, biology, sociology, arts, media, communications and environmental studies) in order to innovate understandings of contemporary problems around: material and non-material, licit and illicit, and real and imagined forms of movement and transformation. These may involve people, communities, landscapes, climates, technologies, animals, commodities, and the whole range of human and non-human things. While much existing research focuses on understandings of identity and society that hinge on continental, regional or national identifications, human and non-human migration and mobility is proposed as an arena that can create fresh understandings of shared political and personal affinity, new kinds of frontiers, imaginaria and cultural borderlands that go beyond state-ism and territoriality. This turns the picture towards a perspective where the spatial, cultural and environmental montage of the person, city, route, trade, technology, landscape, body or ‘thing’, are all inextricably connected. Importantly, we are seeking to develop collaborative understandings between disciplines of changes involving, for example, war and refugeehood, the seasonal migration of people, migrant bodies and identities, communities and wildlife; desertification and the shifting of the seas inland; climate change induced migration and displacements of people and communities.

Topics may focus on, but are not limited to:

  • movements of migrant and refugee bodies, queer crossings, pilgrimage -climate change induced human mobility, forced migration and displacement, indigenous communities and climate justice
  • biodiversity loss and local communities, changes in ecosystems that affect livelihoods, culture and human/non-human migration
  • political conditions of governance that shape relations of migration to the environment
  • the movement and commodification of people, animals, drugs, and everyday (and extraordinary) things
  • non-human migrants, fast and slow moving goods and technologies, money and global commodity chains
  • shifting landscapes, movements of activists and NGO workers, movements of people in extractive projects, energy in motion, maritime mobility and cultures of the sea
  • cyclicality and currents of history in human society, colonial and postcolonial connections
  • the human geography of human/non-human divides -ways pre-existing land, air and maritime routes are repurposed, re-imagined, and re-colonised in the movements of things across the world
  • changing urban diversity, cosmopolitanism, social boundaries and relationships evolved through waves of migration, and the circulation and distribution of people
  • the route as a variable of rapid transformation in ways development and infrastructure development is reshaping dwelling places -the challenge posed to emplaced notions of the urban and territorialised borders between states by the swift adaptability of moving people, places and things
  • cities as topographies of maritime, watery or amphibious relations -Representations of human mobility in media and policy circuits, discourses of migration, climate-induced mobility and refugee crises.

We plan to produce a publication based on the event.

If you would like contribute to these discussions, please submit an abstract and a one-page CV/biodata to Elodie Marandet (E.Marandet@brighton.ac.uk) by 31st December 2018.

If you have any questions please contact: Nichola Khan, Deputy Director, Centre for Spatial Environmental and Cultural Politics. University of Brighton (N.Khan@brighton.ac.uk)

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