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Friday, March 22 to Saturday, March 23

International Symposium: Deexceptionalizing Displacement? Rethinking Citizenship and Mobility
(All day)
University of Pittsburgh
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with the Office of the Provost; the University Center for International Studies (UCIS)
Heath Cabot
Contact Email:

How are the forms of displacement and dispossession experienced by less mobile people similar to, or different from, those of people displaced across national borders?

The rising number of people undertaking often-dangerous border crossings has been labelled by national governments, global media, and scholars alike a global migration "crisis." These characterizations frame the "refugee" or "migrant" as a state of exception, the antithesis to the “citizen.” Such notions of crisis also elide or erase modes of displacement and struggle that may be chronic, normalized, and perhaps even banal, and which may be shared by groups often seen to be distinct. Indeed, even those with legal membership (citizens and long-term residents) face forms of dispossession which may entail both material and existential forms of internal displacement through gentrification, incarceration, environmental changes, unemployment, development, extractive economies, and increasingly unstable futures.
In a period when neoliberalism and accompanying forms of precarity may have become an increasingly pervasive context of everyday life for people across the globe, new understandings of in-group/out-group formations are emerging among scholars and research interlocutors alike, which complicate terms such as “citizens,” “refugees,” and “migrants.” Some scholars and political organizers alike have thus recently emphasized sites of connection and shared struggle that transect such a priori classifications, focusing on issues such as access to housing, healthcare, food, childcare, the labor market, and other shared needs. Such a move seeks to deexceptionalize displacement, demanding a reconsideration of mobility and citizenship alike.
What does deexceptionalizing displacement allow us to see and do? What roads of analysis does it open up, and what are the limits of such an approach? To what extent is the precarity that may unite diverse populations itself a new experience, and to what extent is it historically deep? What is peculiar to the forms of displacement unfolding in this contemporary neoliberal moment, and what do they demand from scholarship and political engagement alike?

Public Keynote Addresses: 9:30-12 pm, Friday, March 22, 2019
Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol, U.K.
Rashad Shabazz, Arizona State University

Workshops will take place Friday afternoon, March 22, and all day Saturday, March 23. Papers will be pre-circulated and preregistration is encouraged. More information to follow.