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Conference Spheres

The Conference will be structured around five ‘spheres’ where, we think, important narratives and practices of belonging are being negotiated and rendered (im)mobile. Each sphere will be curated by a renowned scholar in the field. For each of the spheres, we will look to unpack their ‘immobile’ default, as well as, to investigate what it would bring to rethink the work of belonging which people and other species, undertake as fundamentally related to modalities and infrastructures of mobility.

The Body Politic

This sphere is concerned with the politics of belonging, and will examine how categories, practices and experiences of belonging intersect with mobilities. Contributions to this sphere may address (but are not restricted to) the following topics: Developing understandings of belonging as uneven, changing, distributed and/or hierarchized; Considering the intersections between social class, social mobility, inequality and belonging; Examining the ways in which histories of colonialism and empire, and practices of migration and forced movement, shape experiences of belonging; Tracking how legal categories of belonging (such as citizenship) generate belongings, divisions and exclusions. Interrogating conflicts over belonging within local, national and international communities, including the weaponisation of nativism within nationalist politics; Documenting the ways in which radical political and/or local grassroots movements, nurture alternative forms of belonging that counter stigma, abjection and violence – for example, queer communities, refugee solidarity cities, and anti-poverty activism.

Sphere Curator: Jan Willem Duyvendak

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(Re)making Public Space

Critical theorists have long pushed us to think about space in dynamic and processual ways. How are public spaces made, unmade and remade, particularly as a result of the flow of people? What contrasting conceptions of ‘publicness’ and ‘space’ are brought into the mix as a result of such flows? What happens to public space when mobility is shut down or accelerated – as a result of war, pandemic, economic and climate crisis? Who can still belong, and who is forced to move out or away? Given the well-documented shrinking of the public since the advent of neoliberalism, must our imaginaries of the public necessarily hark back, nostalgically, to what has been lost; or are we witnessing emergent forms of belonging and publicness that have yet to be adequately recognized?

Sphere Curator: Rahul Rao

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Dwelling / Home-ing

Home, in common sense, has typically to do with origin, nativeness, continuity or fixedness. However, none of these conditions matches the actual dwelling arrangements, and perhaps the aspirations, of an increasing number of people, including migrant newcomers and those in protracted displacement. What do provisional and ‘unhomely’ forms of dwelling suggest about home, belonging, and the interplay between the two? How does belonging play out differently across divides such as native vs alien, or well-housed vs precarious dwellers, over time? What are the (dis)advantages of applying the categories of belonging to those in transition or recently arrived, and what do their ways of homemaking tell about “belonging in a mobile world”?

Sphere Curator: Paolo Boccagni

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Ecologies of Belonging

Human exceptionalism has long prevailed in Western thinking of the social, but decolonial thought and the global climate crisis have together driven a re-thinking our ideas of society, state-drawn boundaries, and boundaries between ‘the human’ and ‘the natural’. Humans are intricately entangled with non-human species and more-than-human natures, forming entangled socio-ecologies. With this in mind: How should we think of mobile belonging and how can we challenge the boundaries of in/exclusion in an era of climate extremes, ecological disruption, and displacement of plants, animals and people? How might humanity transit to environmentally more sustainable and more just possibilities for moving, dwelling, belonging, and commoning within shared planetary socio-ecologies?

Sphere Curator: Bernike Pasveer

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Belonging as / at Work

Both issues of belonging and work have increasingly been made flexible, but not for all in the same way and to the same degree. It seems that the precarities of belonging and work somehow neatly map onto each other, with those in search of ways to belong culturally also struggle to belong economically and vice versa. But what work does it take to enact forms of belonging? And how do and might work-places and work-arrangements accommodate belonging in ways that do justice to people’s increasingly mobile and multiple affiliations and affects?

Sphere Curator: Leo Lucassen

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