Mobility, Space and Livelihood Trajectories: New Perspectives on Migration, Translocality and Place-Making for Livelihood Studies

in Livelihoods and Development
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People’s movements and their immobilities are both structured and structure-specific livelihood trajectories and the places at the crossroads. This chapter connects livelihood studies to recent geographical research and draws on Bourdieu’s theory of practice as conceptual frame analysing the relations between (im)mobility, translocality and place-making in three steps. First, I argue that migrants and refugees are permanently positioning themselves in translocal social fields and that their trajectories are often marked by conflicts and fragmentations. The ‘turbulent’ journeys of sub-Saharan migrants to Europe show that spatial and social trajectories are neither direct nor unilinear, particularly when people are confronted with restrictive migration regimes and militarised borders. Second, mobility can contribute to the livelihood security of, then, translocal households. Other examples from the European border space and from Bangladesh do, however, indicate that translocal social networks can become a burden or cause new vulnerability. Third, any analysis of translocal livelihood trajectories is incomplete when it fails to consider the structure of the places that serve as ‘crossroads of migration’. Transient places are permanently transformed through different rhythms and forms of mobility, i.e. flows of people, capital, goods and ideas. While such transformations open up further options for translocal livelihoods, they pose challenges to established structures of territorial regulation and evoke new contestations over space.

Livelihoods and Development

New Perspectives

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