Endurance philanthropists and migrant caravans: Portrayals of fear and (im)mobilities

Authors: Rebecca Clouser*, Washington University in St. Louis, Jillian M. Rickly, University of Nottingham
Topics: Cultural Geography, Migration, Latin America
Keywords: Fear, security, endurance philanthropy, mobility, migration, Guatemala
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper investigates the emotional geographies of mobility through an examination of the role of fear in mobility narratives. More specifically, it juxtaposes the narratives of fear and security which frame two interrelated groups of travelers: endurance philanthropists who purposefully choose arduous modes of transportation from North America to Central America in an effort to raise awareness for specific charitable causes and migrant caravans who are traveling in the opposite direction. This specific juxtaposition offers a fruitful point of entry for investigating the power geometries which shape and frame both the practices and representations of (im)mobility. While similar in many ways, the discourses of fear and security related to these journeys function at very different affective and emotional registers in the public imagination. Fear can be seen as part of the excitement, adventure and danger of a humanitarian endurance event. However, fear also motivates Central American migrant journeys and shapes their experiences and routes to North America. At yet another level, fears in the Global North work towards the militarization of borders and the criminalization of people on the move in the world today, ultimately further compounding migrant fear as well. By comparing the narratives of fear related to these two disparate, yet entangled, journeys of spectacle, this paper highlights how the (geo)politics of mobility are manifested in profoundly unequal ways.

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