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SP23 - Multi-modal explorations of 'the good life' from the margins of mobilities

Convened by Nanneke Winters, Helena Perez Niño (International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Netherlands) and Zemzem Shigute Shuka (ISS and Addis Ababa University)

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How have ideas and practices of ‘the good life’ changed over time in marginalized families, communities and geographies where mobility is the norm, not the exception? In this panel, we take a historical, multi-generational perspective on how values and aspirations change in contexts of displacement, diasporic formation, cross-border labour migration and other forms of mobility, and do so by employing a multimodal methodological approach. We contrast people’s own notions of ‘the good life’ with static concepts of development, which disregard people’s traditional knowledges while simultaneously disregarding the mobilities and connections that transform these knowledges. We focus on how people themselves envision good, valuable lives to strive after, notions that are often interwoven with migration experiences and reinforced or re-defined by struggles over mobility. On the one hand, we examine how historically shaped social hierarchies, current conditions of exclusion, and globally circulating narratives of in/justice, sustainability, neo-colonialism and so forth influence ideas and practices of development: how do these get contested, accommodated and/or transformed into something locally meaningful? On the other hand, we open up space for multimodal methodologies to achieve a deeper level of engagement with different interpretations of development. We invite scholars interested in establishing an interdisciplinary conversation based on the materials that they bring with them to the panel: amongst others, ethnographic vignettes, life histories, photos, art, household surveys, bar graphs and pie charts that represent and speak to evolving notions of ‘the good life’. We look forward to discussing empirical explorations of ‘the good life’ in economic, political, ecological and sociocultural terms, explorations that are strongly embedded in local context yet acknowledge regional and global connections. We aim for a diversity of topics, for example, multi-generational transnational businesses, urban gardening in impoverished neighbourhoods, small-scale agricultural adaptations to climate change, informal and formal health systems, and popular protest.