by Ben Rogaly
It has been argued that the ‘mobility turn’ is overcelebratory regarding human movement across space. Yet, critical studies of mobilities have emerged that refute this, demonstrating how various forms and aspects of mobility are bound up with unequal power relations. This paper, by Ben Rogaly, engages with debates over migration and mobility through an in-depth analysis of three life history interviews recorded in England in 2011. The subjects of the interviews are all men in their fifties and sixties of South Asian heritage, who moved to England as minors, and who, as adults, worked in factories for at least three years. The stories in all their affectivity and sensuousness disrupt standard tropes regarding migration and contribute to our understanding of the relations between mobility, fixity, ‘race’, and class.
The built-in historical perspective shows how, looking back, someone who may once have migrated across international borders does not necessarily see that as the most significant moment in their life; how someone’s past moves within a nation- state may have greater significance to them than their moves into it; how people who move at one point can also be stuck, reluctantly immobile, at another; and how both the representations and materiality of mobility and fixity are imbued with, and reproduce, class inequality and racisms.
Read and download the paper here.