Borders and Mobilities: Indifference, (Un)familiarity and Thresholds
with Martin Van der Velde (Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands)
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
11:00 am
12:30 pm
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In this presentation, I would like to address three interrelated concepts that over the years have been important in my observations in the field of border and mobility studies, to wit, indifference, (un)familiarity and thresholds. All concepts are trying to open up the ‘black’ or at least ‘grey box’ that mobility has been for a long time. This is following the ‘mobility turn’, that started around the 90s of the previous century.

What the concepts explicitly add to this is the notion that to understand mobility, grasping (the reasons for) being immobile is also important. After all, about 97% of the world's population is immobile when it concerns crossing national borders. This has not to be interpreted as taking a sedentarism position. It does acknowledge that the insights into a certain phenomenon can increase by looking at the opposite.

By using these three concepts, the focus is strongly on the decision-making process and the role (national) border(ing) therein. The concept of indifference tries to go beyond taking (economic) rationality as the prime driver in the decision-making process. (Un)familiarity emphasises the role of borders in creating differences and therewith more or less familiar places that can inhibit or rather encourage mobility. In the latter case, borders can be considered as resources(-creators). The threshold approach states that all kinds of dynamic, real and imagined hurdles have to be taken before becoming (successfully) mobile.

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