Migrancy and Unsettlement

On Dec. 16, 2015, CGT member Rosalind C. Morris led a brainstorming session for a proposed CGT research project on a rigorous theoretical exploration of the concepts, questions and tasks of responding to the current and short-term future of migrancy. Estimates of the numbers of people presently displaced from their homes range from several hundred million to more than a billion. These ‘unsettled’ people may be stateless or without access to the securities that are tied to residency within a single political jurisdiction. Or they may be relatively autonomous actors who move temporarily but find themselves stranded from or disavowed by their home states. They may be ‘criminalized’ but exist beyond the reach of regulatory systems. They may be forcibly dislocated – due to existing or anticipated natural disasters – or they may be fleeing such efforts and other forms of coercion.

Many of the organizing concepts and ‘institutionalities’ through which we have previously addressed questions of migrancy need to be either radically rethought or abandoned. We need, for example, to rethink the presumptive oppositions between voluntary and involuntary movement linked to the distinction between political and criminal violence, and between temporary versus permanent migration. Related conceptions of right and of political sovereignty must also be interrogated.

The research project, Migrancy and Unsettlement, will convene a group of scholars in a rigorous theoretical exploration of a deep and multivalent response to the current and short-term future of migrancy. It will also engage cultural producers and artists who are addressing these issues, to open up our understanding of movement beyond mobility.

Learn more about the research proposal.