Panel 1: Translocal Forms of Belonging

Panel Time: 
Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 10:30 to 13:00


Sarah Albiez-Wieck, GSSC
Sinah Kloß, GSSC


A person's sense of belonging is a dynamic process that shifts in relation to his or her various understandings and constructions of identity based on race, class/rank, gender, religious affiliation, occupation, age, and sexuality. Although feelings and senses of belonging are constantly negotiated, these are particularly transformed in the course of migration. When people migrate, their senses and feelings of belonging to a certain place or group are altered, regardless whether this migration takes place on a regional or international level. However, the extent to which these transformations take place may vary according to the spatial and temporal levels of this movement.

Place, territoriality, and locality have to be considered as intricate elements in (re)constructions of belonging, as politics and senses of belonging are influenced by place-based interactions between social actors and objects. Belonging is always linked to the situatedness of people, socio-cultural and physical environments, and landscapes, hence is influenced by translocal practices and representations that performatively recreate identity and notions of attachment.

This panel focuses on historical and contemporary practices and representations of belonging. It puts an emphasis on forms of negotiation between powerful and less powerful social actors, between the (post-)colonial state, its institutions and individual migrants and how these are mediated. It raises questions such as: how are people's senses of belonging-and not belonging-applied as a resource in practices of place-making and in the creation of (social) demarcations, social units, and border regimes? It links these questions to the concept of translocality, which highlights the situatedness of (im)mobile people whose lives, realities, and environments are influenced by global and local dynamics as well as the movement of concepts and objects. It highlights the need to include spatial references into analyses of belonging and discusses methodological issues asking, for example, how to operationalize translocal approaches in historical studies when the available sources only allow a restricted view on the situatedness of actors.