AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: MEDIATING SUBJECTS: TOWARD AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY OF MOBILITY
Author: MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago), MICHELLE LELIEVRE (University of Chicago)   
Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM
Co-Author(s): MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago), MICHELLE LELIEVRE (University of Chicago) 
Abstract: The discourse of mobility within anthropology has deep roots in the structural-functionalist and social evolutionary paradigms of the mid-twentieth century. This model brought mobility into the political sphere by assigning it a key role in determining the political complexity of societies (and vice versa). In doing so, however, it produced a dichotomy between mobile and sedentary populations, which was predicated on the modern conception of the state as an agrarian society that exists spatially within bounded territories. Moreover, the constitution of (mobile) political subjects was either overlooked or simply resultant upon the structure of political organization. Numerous critiques within all sub-fields of anthropology have worked to destabilize this dichotomy. Indeed, archaeological research has revealed that societies may utilize multiple forms of mobility with varying subsistence strategies, while ethnographic observations of mobile populations, such as migrant workers, refugees, pilgrims and diasporas, have demonstrated that these subjects can transcend political boundaries, thus asserting differential claims to sovereignty. Yet even with these inter-disciplinary insights, anthropology is left without a coherent theory of mobility and its relation to the political sphere. Bringing these perspectives together, we forward an anthropological theory of mobility that recuperates the political subject within mobility discourses and explores how mobility mediates the relationship between subjects and political institutions. We draw inspiration from recent anthropological scholarship that explores the intersection between practice and experience in constituting subjectivity, as well as archaeological landscape theory in which bodies and spaces are implicated in each other.

Program Number: 2-0215
Session Title: MOVING BODIES, BEING SUBJECTS: ETHNOGRAPHIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL APPROACHES TO MOBILITY
Session Sponsor: Co-Sponsored by Archaeology Division and Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago), MICHELLE LELIEVRE (University of Chicago) 
Chair(s): MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago)  
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