‘Mobility Politics’ – ASMCF/SSFH PG Study Day

I thoroughly enjoyed chairing the panel on ‘mobility politics’, which examined the diverse political, cultural, and religious dimensions of mobility in a range of historical and geographical contexts. The papers all spoke to each other well, with similar themes emerging: political inclusion, citizenship, belonging, and identity. However, the papers examined migration from different perspectives: geographical, historical, and legal respectively.

Jonathan Harris gave a fascinating paper entitled ‘Neither Here nor There: Amazigh Indigeneity/Autochtonie and the Politics of Diaspora in Contemporary France’. Examining the case of the Amazigh (Berber) community from Algeria living in Île-de France, he argued that these people are both indigenous and diasporic because they are officially unrecognised by both France and Algeria, and in fact position themselves as exiled peoples. Jonathan then demonstrated the political motivations behind the supposed acceptance of these communities in France, looking at speeches made by Nicolas Sarkozy and Valérie Pécresse. Avner Ofrath then spoke on ‘Mobility and its Limits in the Colonial Order: Reform Plans in Algeria, 1914-37’. In his paper, Avner examined the struggle for political rights by indigenous Muslims in Algeria at beginning of the 20th century. He gave a very useful explanation of the different and often inadequate terms used to describe different populations living in colonial Algeria, before arguing that indigenous claims for political participation proposed alternate visions of French citizenship. The final paper, given by Giovanni Cavaggion, was entitled ‘Multiculturalism and the Freedom of Religion: The Italian Approach to the Burqini Case’. Giovanni explored the legal similarities and differences between the banning of the burqini on French beaches in summer 2016, and in a little-known, almost identical situation which occurred in a northern town in Italy in 2009. All three speakers gave very engaging papers which fitted well with the overall conference theme, and the discussion afterwards was extremely interesting.

Antonia Wimbush, University of Birmingham

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