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The social consequences of the mobility of people, goods, power, and ideas constitute the central focus of the Moving Matters research programme. Members of the research group explore migrating people and moving commodities, as well as the shifting networks (of solidarity, remittances, knowledge, meaning, and power) that result from such practices. These networks stretch from the local to the transnational and necessarily involve encounters with the state through deportation regimes, access to resources and technologies, border infrastructures, decolonial and postcolonial movements, labour relations, and violence and conflict.
Moving Matters

Moving Matters has positioned itself as a leading international academic centre for the study of mobilities and their important implications for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. including critical development studies and ecological issues, and how these impact social and political equalities – with a particular focus on the Global South. The research group’s approaches emphasise comparative and historical dimensions to the study of social inequalities. Researchers are interested in comparisons between cases, periods, and networks, as well as in analysing more distant relationships. We study how mobility and immobility are interlinked and mediated by constantly changing political power relations. Methodologically we favour qualitative methods, and in particular ethnography, involving long-term immersion of the researcher in the community, locality, or network.

Social consequence of mobility

The orientation of MoMat researchers is to study the intricate dimensions of mobilities, propelled by global capitalism and manifested in the forms of the (re)production of poverty and wealth, unequal development schemes, changing state-citizen relations, social conflicts, and processes of inclusion and exclusion. MoMat researchers investigate a range of themes, including illegal but licit flows and permissive polities, the effects of remittances on migrants’ regions of origin, commodity chains, hegemonic discourses of modernism and development, the formation of states and civil societies, the transnational circulation of racial knowledge, the role of popular intellectuals, and social movements. We study these across a variety of contexts and sites (notably states, labour relations, networks and borderlands) and by focusing on pivotal roles and practices (such as brokers of power and knowledge). What ties the research programme together is an interest in explaining the social consequences of the mobility of people over time – and of the goods and ideas that move with them.

Transnational networks

MoMat’s focus is global because of the continued need for social science theorising to go beyond the dominance of European and North American scholarship. The group’s current research expertise is concentrated on a variety of societies and transnational networks that span localities in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. The group welcomes scholars working on the social consequences of increased social and economic disparities that are generated by the (im)mobility of people, goods and ideas around the world. The group has a chair in Ecology, Health, and Climate Change, working on developing an anthropology of the human aspects of climate change, mainly in the Global South, and more broadly coordinates the various research interests in ecological issues both within Moving Matters and other program groups. In addition, the group has a Chair by Special Appointment on the Comparative Political Anthropology of South and Southeast Asia. 

Teaching activities

MoMat researchers are committed to feeding their research findings into their multiple teaching activities. The teaching model is based on close collaboration among the members of our group, effective use of team teaching, and consequent allocation of faculty teaching time to students at all levels. Staff members are chiefly involved in the bachelor’s programme in anthropology (and responsible for the anthropology and critical development stream), the master’s programmes in anthropology, and in the social sciences more broadly (for example in the research master’s programme). They supervise numerous PhD and postdoc researchers. They have built up an international reputation as a leading centre for PhD students from all over the globe – particularly the Global South – who are interested in learning and conducting empirical research around the vanguard research agenda of MoMat.