Anti-sedentarism and the anthropology of forced migration
Anthropologists of forced migration have advanced unique perspectives exploring identity and community as they relate to space. With its critique of naturalized conceptions of rootedness, boundedness, and territorialization, anti-sedentarism stands as an important conceptual development emanating from this work. And while expressions such as ‘sedentary bias’ and ‘sedentarist thinking’ are found throughout this body of literature, anti-sedentarism per se has not received a proper treatment of its disciplinary underpinnings and intellectual horizons. This article identifies some of the genealogical traces of anti-sedentarism, discussing it through anthropological contributions in both the cultural and mobility turns. Informed by the work of anthropologists of forced migration, a working definition of anti-sedentarism is provided, followed by a critical discussion on key debates related to this concept. A selection of migrant and refugee ethnographies produced during the mobility turn (1990s onward) is then used to explore the extent which anti-sedentarism has translated to the empirical work of anthropologists and ethnographers engaging with displacement, dispossession, and deterritorialization.
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