Suspended lives (and fieldworks): Minorities, migrants and research in times of Covid
Málstofustjóri: Marco Solimene
The Covid-19 pandemic has suspended the unfolding of our everyday lives and exposed the fragility of many of our certainties about what normal life is. It also triggered new global anxieties concerning future scenarios, where at risk is our health, but our social, economic and political conditions, as well as the right to movement and sociability. The pandemic and the measures adopted to tackle it, however, impacted more harshly on the categories of persons that already suffer structural disadvantages, and often radicalized socio-economic inequalities and the precariety of already underpriviledged groups. At the same time, they also impacted on research, hindering the movement, face-to-face contacts and interactions, and bodily experience that are at the base of fieldwork in social sciences. This panel proposes a reflection on two interconnected questions: on the one hand, the impacts of Covid-19 on the everyday, normal lives of poors, urban underprivileged, minorities and migrants; and on the other hand, the challenges faced by social scientists conducting fieldwork research. It thus explores the coping strategies that people and/or social scientists adopted to recover, even if partially, the normalcy suspended by the pandemic.
Sjá ágrip erindanna hér fyrir neðan og upptöku af málstofunni í heild sinni.
Suspended mobilities: Transnational migration in times of Covid19
Global capitalism largely relies upon flexible, temporary and mobile workers. Mobile workers frequently serve as disposable labour surplus, which is recruited in times of labour shortages and let go when no longer needed. Especially seasonal workers in agriculture, tourism and construction industry are often hired on provisional contracts and have limited prospects for legalized settlement. Employers on their part, strive to capitalize migrants’ multi-local belongings, double frame of reference and non-citizen status in the host countries. Consequently, the mobility that is often imposed and perpetuated within the neoliberal governance produces transnational modes of living. These so-called mobile livelihoods typically imply back and forth travelling to re-connect with relatives and friends in the places of origin. The current global pandemic displayed the inherent fragility of transnational labour market systems, not only profoundly disturbing international flows of temporary and seasonal workers, but also questioning the very premises of transnational living. In my presentation, using examples from my ongoing ethnographic study among Polish migrants in Iceland, I discuss how the sudden disruption of free travelling affected lives of mobile workers in order to reflect on the theoretical and practical implication of Covid19 lockdown on the organization of transnational labour.
Lykilorð: transnational migration, global pandemic, Polish migrants
Poetic autonomies among refugee men in Europe
Recent border struggles in Southern Europe have brought forth alliances among diverse people marginalized by neoliberal restructurings, national ideologies and heterosexual normativities. This research explores the lasting effect of such collaborations among twelve refugee men, currently settled in Sweden, Germany, and Greece. The study builds on transmigration studies, ethnographic methods and previous work among activists in Greece since 2012. While the men’s intersectional positions have been fluid and precarious since then, they have spent recent years struggling to build up a gendered identity as desirable partners, caring sons and active citizens. Thus, their narratives on masculine autonomy tends to be poetic; lyrically oscillating between the meaning of human respect and care and surrendering their bodily autonomy to societal expectations and state restrictions. However, in the absence of economic opportunities due to Covid-pandemic, preliminary findings indicate that they draw on their experiences working alongside queer activists, embedding the tactic of defying masculine expectations. As such, they describe their gendered identity as a fallible human being; as a human that struggles but cannot always prevail. In so doing, they claim the right to existence without continually conforming to the image of the hard-working migrant man. Thus, they posit uncertainty through the unruly subject and by re-assembling the poetic performances.
Lykilorð: refugees, masculinities, Covid-19
Trúarathafnir múslíma á tímum kórónaveirunnar
Erindi mitt fjallar um hvernig múslímar glímdu við þá nýju stöðu sem upp kom vegna kórónuveirunnar og hvernig þeir fundu upp nýjar leiðir til að iðka trúarathafnir sínar. Samkomubann var virkt á þeim tíma sem föstumánuðurinn Ramadan átti sér stað. Erindið er byggt á rituðum heimildum og viðtölum við leiðtoga múslíma í Reykjavík en vettvangsrannsókn var ekki möguleg vegna samkomubanns. Trúarathafnir múslíma eru félagslegs eðlis, þar sem samsemd hópsins sem trúna aðhyllast og iðka er mikilvæg. Í þessum athöfnum í Ramadan mánuði eru gildi trúarbragðanna einkum staðfest og birt með þátttöku hópsins. Nálægð, samvera og félagsleg/trúarleg samsömun eru miðlægir þættir, þar sem múslímar sameinast í þessum félagslegu og trúarlegu athöfnum. Í ár (2020) vildi svo til að þessum mikilvægu félagslegu athöfnum þurfti að setja strangar skorður og/eða sleppa alveg vegna kórónuveirufaraldursins. Mikilvæg samvera samfélags múslíma fluttist frá hinu félagslega rými (moskum) til einkarýmis (heimilis) og flestöll samskipti áttu sér stað í gegnum hið stafræna rými (Facebook, Zoom, o.fl.). Þetta var m.a. tilfellið með Ramadan trúarhald Menningarstofnunar múslíma á Íslandi, þar sem ímam stofnunarinnar tók upp og sendi út bænahald á Facebook á hverju kvöldi Ramadan mánaðar. Undirritaður fylgdist með þessum upptökum sem eru hluti af gögnum sem liggja til grundvallar erindisins.
Lykilorð: muslims, religious rituals, Covid-19
Lockdown in an urban shanty: an internal gaze through digital anthropology
What were the impacts of the Covid pandemic, and the consequent lockdown, on a Roma community living in a “Nomad camp“ in the periphery of Rome? In this paper I argue that in order to address this question I had to integrate traditional forms of ethnographic fieldwork with methodologies elaborated within digital anthropology. Combining long-term relationship with the camp‘s inhabitants, with the analysis of social media and of interviews conducted at-distance in the last spring, the paper explores the processes triggered by the lockdown and affecting the inner boundaries of the Italian state and the city of Rome. It also scrutinizes the Roma perspectives on the pandemic and the daily life in the camp during the lockdown. The paper thus highlights an ambivalent situation. The measures implemented, on the part of the city authorities, to control the spread of the pandemic reinforced the spatial division between the “Nomad camp“ and the urban space surrounding it. This in turn intensified the political and ethnic divisions between citizens and non-citizen, non-Roma and Roma. Nonetheless, in the camp the Roma could circumvent some of the restrictions on sociability and movement imposed by the lockdown, and thus maintain some kind of normalcy in otherwise suspended existences.
Lykilorð: Covid-19, Nomad camp, digital anthropology