This research challenge seeks to understand people’s different capacities to move and how lives are shaped by constraints on movement (across and within borders), enforced mobility and access to citizenship. It analyses how borders produce and manage difference. It attends to how borders are enforced and challenged, and it makes efforts to counter ‘methodological nationalism’ – for example, by exploring how histories of colonisation and anti-colonial struggles shape cross-border movements and contemporary immigration controls. It is also particularly interested in engaging with policymakers and third sector organisations in a constructively critical way.
This research challenge is focussed on the regulation and governance of movement, how this produces certain subjects and how people comply or resist. Conflicts have arisen historically between social actors seeking freer and safer movement and those determined to tighten controls on mobility. We connect this to questions of ‘differential inclusion’ where people’s presence is (barely) tolerated when they attempt to stop moving. This means taking into account how the violent ruptures of modernity – such as enclosure, colonialism, slavery and partition – have had on-going implications for techniques of mobility control and people’s resistance to them. Through theoretical, historical and empirical work we seek to understand and challenge the structural inequalities and systems of domination, such as ‘race’, caste, class, gender, age and nationality, that restrict rights and freedoms in the global world in different ways. In order to do so, we ask:
- How do people differently devise moves and tactics to circumnavigate and resist constraints on their freedom?
- What are the links between historical and contemporary techniques used by states, social groups and political organisations to control and prevent the unwanted movement of particular populations?
- How can past efforts by rightless and marginalised people to move closer to freedom shed light on the pursuit and practice of freedom by such people today?
- How can narratives and lived experiences of mobilities problematise and expose the limits and ambivalences of dichotomies such as resistance/accommodation, agency/control, freedom/domination?
Selected research projects:
- UK-EU couples after ‘Brexit: migrantisation and the UK family immigration regime
- Modern Marronage? The Pursuit and Practice of Freedom in the Contemporary World (ERC)
- We are Bristol: reparative justice through collaborative research
- Borders and Borderlands: A research network on historical representations of border territories and communities (A UoB research network run by Professor Helen Fulton)
- Border Geographies in Medieval European Writing
- Working for ‘five a day’: Risk and resilience in the food system, a multi-sited ethnography of the labour that feeds one city
- Kept Apart: Couples and families separated by the UK immigration system
- Paid to Care: Domestic Workers in Contemporary Latin American Culture (Project on hold for maternity leave)
Research challenge co-ordinator:
Dr Natasha Carver, Lecturer in International Criminology, School of Policy Studies
Latest blogs related to this challenge:
- Thinking about the positive value of free movementBy Chris Bertram. One of the consequences of Brexit is that British people are more limited in their freedom of movement. Whereas previously they could travel, work, retire, settle in other European countries, […]
- What protections are available to people displaced by climate change?Special series on Migration, Mobilities and the Environment, in association with the Cabot Institute for the Environment. By Kathryn Allinson. Climate change will impact all our lives in the coming years and many […]
- Organising against fear: migrant nannies and domestic workers during COVIDNew writing on migration and mobilities – an MMB special series By Maud Perrier Migrant nannies and domestic workers were largely absent from mainstream feminist commentary during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as from […]