Ann Varley: “From nomadic subjects to noble savages? Inverting binaries of mobility and dwelling” (VIDEO)

HOMInG seminar 29_19 was with prof. Ann Varley, a human geographer at UCL.
Her presentation provides an insightful and critical overview of theories of identity, home and mobility, building on her past fieldwork on informal settlements in urban Mexico. The widespread intellectual “fascination with the mobile subject”, Ann says, “tends to neglect all situations in which geographical displacement is painful rather than liberating”. Groups of citizens searching for informal settlements in urban contexts, one eviction after the other, are a case in point. The message out of much academic celebration of “mobility”, however, is at odds with their attempts to “get settled” at last: “It is fine to yearn for a home, but not to have one!”
As dwelling ends up being dismissed as “sedentarism”, charged with all sorts of negative consequences, many scholars “fail to talk with people and understand what they actually value”.