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Diffractions 2013 : (Un-)Boundedness - On Mobility and Belonging


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Submission Deadline Nov 15, 2013
Categories    cultural studies   mobility   media   migration

Call For Papers

Call for Articles

Diffractions - Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture

(Un-)Boundedness: On Mobility and Belonging

Deadline for submissions: November 15 2013

In a “liquid modernity”, to use Zygmunt Bauman’s terminology, everything is more fluid and flexible, “neither fix[ing] space nor bind[ing] time” (Bauman, 2000: 2). Whereas in the past, one could find deeply rooted social organizations and solid cultural configurations, in modern times, people and institutions have become increasingly deterritorialized. The fact that no one nor anything remains the same or in the same place for too long has had an enormous impact on how identities and communities are shaped, perceived and performed. They are no longer marked by permanence and stability but by mobility, change and imagination.

Time and space compression (Harvey, 1989) brought by late modernity as a result of new technologies, new means of transportation and new communication tools has played an important role in the devaluation of spatial delimitation, by nurturing a faster and continuous circulation of goods, ideas, information and people at a large scale. Traditional notions of home, homeland and nation have been destabilized by new cultural flows that challenge the symbolic boundaries of both domestic space and nation-state. In Manuel Castells’ terms, the “space of flows” keeps on replacing the old “space of places” (Castells, 2001), where “new strategies of flexible accumulation have promoted a flexible attitude toward citizenship” (Ong, 1999), “floating identities” (Abbas, 1997) and “diasporic public spheres” (Shih, 2007). The emergence of this new “mobility paradigm” (Urry 2002, 2007) has certainly involved the creation of new experiences, the production of new layers of personal and social relations and the formation of new geographies. As claimed by Elliot and Urry, “changes in how people live their life today are both affected by and reflect the broader changes of global mobility processes” (2007: ix), with connectivity being exponentially dependent on “miniaturized mobilities” (ibid.) and lifestyles becoming increasingly nomadic. All these aspects are summoned up in the main argument proposed by the authors that people’s lives have become, indeed, mobile lives (ibid.).

Mobility is often depicted as the opposite of belonging. Yet, these constantly shifting spaces and relationships, these global cultural flows or interactions Arjun Appadurai calls –scapes (ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescapes, mediascapes, and ideoscapes) (Appadurai, 1996), whilst pointing to a growing sense of heterogeneity and transiency, also promote cultural exchange and new scales of belonging. Indeed, people appear to be always in transit especially through “non-places”, “space[s] which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity” (Augé, 1995: 77-78), yet, at the same time, foster a situational and transitory feeling of belonging.

This rising globalized circulation, however, does not necessarily imply the standardization of the social fabric. In fact, this mobility is taking place unevenly, at different paces and intensities, bringing visibility to globalization as a complex and multiform process, as the motor of both similarity and difference, dialogue and conflict, proximity and distance, boundedness and unboundedness. On the one hand, access to other cultures becomes easier and migratory movements increasingly more frequent, thus contributing to a regular contact with what is deemed different and unfamiliar. However, on the other hand, it is often the case that mobility, “frequent repotting” (Putnam, 2000: 204), displacement and uprootedness lead to disparity, exclusion, and to the creation of hybridized (Bhabha, 1994; Canclini 1995) or liminal (Turner, 1967; 1969) forms of life. This tense relationship between two or more different cultures contributes to the development of hybrid or borderland identities built upon both negotiation and transgression yet allowing the invention of new subjectivities, cartographies and categories of difference and belonging.

Themes to be addressed by contributors may include but are not restricted to the following:

· Mobility and (Be)Longing: Migration, Diaspora, Exile and Homecomings

· Memory and (Up)Rootedness

· Cosmopolitanism, Hospitality and Global Citizenship

· Sovereignty and Nationalism

· Transnational Imagination and Cultural Transfers

· Liminality, Hibridity and Identity

· Peripheries, Remappings and Contested Cartographies

· Modern Cities and Urban Imaginaries

· Travel, Tourism and Mobile Lifestyles

· Artistic, Literary and Media Representations of Mobility and Belonging

· Scale, Geocriticism and World Literature

· Translation, Globalization and Alterity

· Digital Mobility, Communities and (Un)Connectedness

· (Im)Materiality and Belonging

We look forward to receiving articles of no more than 20 A4 pages (not including bibliography) and a short bio of about 150 words by November 15, 2013 at the following address:

DIFFRACTIONS also accepts book reviews that may not be related to the issue’s topic. If you wish to write a book review, please contact us at

Please submit your contributions according to the journal's guidelines. Find us online at:

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