Reviewer cangiaf | Review

#432 It's Only a Matter of Time: The Affects of Temporal (Im)Mobility in an Urban Travellers’ Camp

Coresponding author's contact details

First name Anthony Middle name Last name Howarth
Title Dr Organization / Institution University of Oxford Department Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Address 51-53 Banbury Road Postal / Zip code OX2 6PE Country GB
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

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Abstract title

It's Only a Matter of Time: The Affects of Temporal (Im)Mobility in an Urban Travellers’ Camp

Abstract text

Irish Travellers, as their name might suggest, are regularly portrayed as a mobile group par-excellence. Although their cultural identity is founded on a history of mobility, the Traveller family I researched made concerted efforts to fight eviction and remain in the encampment where they had lived for two decades. This resolve to stay put was not wholly agentic, as the family’s mobility had been previously constrained by aggressive state policies that left them little other choice than to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. However, the family then became vulnerable to eviction when the widespread regeneration of the area of London in which they lived, reached their encampment. Because their capacity to move was constrained by having no viable alternative place to live, the family experienced a prolonged period of uncertainty during which their future together was threatened. This paper explores the relationship between (im)mobility, temporality, and Travellers’ asymmetrical position within structures of power, through my interlocutors’ experience of threatened eviction. In doing so, it demonstrates how this situation prevented the family from being able to envision a satisfactory horizon of expectation, thereby disturbing the continuity between their past lives, their present situation, and their future expectations. Consequently, I suggest that the family reached a temporal impasse, or what I conceptualise as a broken horizon: A situation which meant they felt unable to move forward in time. Through making these arguments, the paper not only challenges work on Traveller mobility but compels us to reconsider anthropology’s recent engagements with open futures.

Conference topic

Panel no. 35 - Time, (Im)Mobility and Vulnerability

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Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-14 11:58h by cangiaf

Reviewer decision