Desired immobility

Presentation at the Panel on Two-step approaches to understanding migration at the IMISCOE 2018 Conference (2-4 July).

DhA832jXUAEX1CRAlthough immobility has gained status as a proper research object, its image as a default situation still prevails in some of the migration literature, where stayers are still labelled as ‘left behind’ (Jónsson, 2011). However, similarly to the migrant category which subsumes together different realities, the immobile label is imposed on situations that present internal disparity. The idea of staying put as the result of taking no action is severely compromised in the analysis of the ethnographic data collected in the small Mexican village of Zacualpan. In the socio-geographical context of this village, crossed and built upon a myriad of present and past mobilities, the research explores how villagers willing to remain, manage to stay put in a context of high physical mobility. Data show how, similarly to migration, staying put is often part of complex life strategies which involve changing mobility-immobility articulations. The ethnographic material supports the explanatory power of breaking down the aspiration phase from the realisation one to understand the (mis)matching between desires and capacities for situations of permanence (Carling, 2002). Three broad types of stayers are identified: desired, acquiescent (Schewel 2015), and involuntary (Carling 2002) stayers. The research particularly explores how villagers willing to remain, have managed to stay put in a context of high physical mobility, and how staying villagers perceive the desirability and feasibility of staying put compared with that of migrating.