ISSJ - N° 175 - Moving Targets

March 2003

Displacement is at the heart of the restructuring of states and economic sectors, innovative forms of employment and economic subsistence, and the building of modern infrastructure or mega-projects such as dams and roadways. By disrupting and uprooting communities and solidarities, displacement prompts new meanings of belonging, home, identity, citizenship, and rights. It is thus crucial for understanding processes of development, global (re)integration and economic change in the 21st century. Yet questions of place and space remain inadequately explored in the social sciences.

The mobility of people expresses and shapes the constantly shifting relationship between displacement, development, and impoverishment, remapping states and nations and their attendant patterns and relations of exclusion and inclusion. The articles in this issue interrogate the ways in which people lose control or access to property, resources, places of residence, social networks, kin relations, and various material resources, as well as how people negotiate identities and shore themselves up against loss, vulnerability, personal insecurity, and threats to selfhood. Displacement provides a lens to question development and the processes by which the strategies and interests of people, collectivities, states and international agencies control and alter social relations. The articles thus draw attention to the hidden consequences of wars and natural disasters, the intervention of new technologies and mega-projects, as well as public policies that alter the meaning of ethnicity, language, and place.

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