Mobility in Time: Contagion as Collective Reinvention

Authors: Anne McNevin*, The New School
Topics: Migration, Global Change
Keywords: Time, mobility, borders, migration
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper approaches mobility in space together with mobility in time. If sendentarism is typically privileged as a baseline norm in spatial terms, presentism is its equivalent in temporal terms. Presentism does not only imply a perspective from the present that ignores or underplays historical context, but also and more significantly, the possibility of separating past from present and future in ways that do not countenance the interconnections – or mobilities – between them. Presentism gives us clean breaks that separate one moment from the next – the colonial from the postcolonial for example, in ways that discount seepage, contagion, and continuity over time. This paper reflects on examples where mobilities in time are the premise for political projects in space: Indigenous conceptions of sovereignty (premised on the inseparability of part/present/future; and the inseparability of time from space) and anti-colonial confederations (premised on interconnections between colony and metropole in time, and refusing their split-separation in space). The paper examines the potential for contagion and mobility as temporal metaphors to offer resources for collective political re-invention and to do so in ways that counter the more pejorative sense in which contagion and mobility are mobilized as spatial metaphors (as in, disease, infection, swarms, and so on).

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