Bodies, things, capital

This research challenge explores the relationships between migration and other non-human mobilities such as the movement of goods, data and living beings. These relationships can be direct, indirect and metaphorical. It examines how broadening our approach and making connections with other forms of mobility and with the non-human that moves we can better understand how human movement impacts on and reflects eco-systems, socio-economic relations and technological change.

This research challenge traces movements of the human and non-human and the connections between them to help develop a systemic understanding of migration. For example, one of the primary drivers of the movement of people has been the search for markets, for land and for work; the movement of the COVID-19 virus has been enabled by human movement and has had an impact on human mobilities; the movement of data has both facilitated and restricted border crossings. We explore the materiality of mobilities to make connections and better understand the impact of policy and activist interventions.

Key research questions include:

  • How are these movements, and our understandings of them, gendered?
  • When is migrant labour an object and when is it a determinant of capital’s mobility?
  • What role do cities, sub-national territorial formations and regional arrangements play in capitalism(s) and what does this mean for understanding flows of people?
  • How does anxiety about climate change and its consequences affect attitudes to human movement?

Linked projects:

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Research Challenge Co-ordinator:

Dr Juan Zhang, Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology