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In Praise of Staying Put

Mark Graham

Stockholm University

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A lecture praising immobility might seem a tad perverse or just a way of getting attention at a workshop devoted to stuff that moves. Perhaps it is both. But making a point with inversions and contrasts has a long history in anthropology. Think of rituals of reversal and worlds turned upside-down. Closer to queer interests one only has to think of how quickly queer shame, as opposed to gay pride, made a fruitful appearance. Maybe, as some have suggested, the emphasis on mobility in queer theory reflects a class perspective, that of the privileged mobile flâneur and one to which we are all too easily prone, but also perhaps the assumption, still present in some quarters, that anthropology in order to be done properly requires moving away rather than staying at home. Yet demanding or expecting mobility arguably directs attention from what is in front of you, perhaps hiding in the light, or directly under your feet waiting to be uncovered. Arguably, too, the imperative to be mobile is at least partially at odds with elements of queer theorising that stress queerness within and not only without and elsewhere.


 

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