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The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement

Barriers, fences and borders in Europe force many prospective migrants to lead lives in suspension, a state of waiting, not knowing when the moment of departure will be, if it will ever arrive. Waiting determines the everyday lives of many refugees and migrants, awaiting permissions, authorizations in an effort to move from one place to another, but also enclosure from a repetitive present to the future.


Movement may be the more well known face of migration, but waiting and immobility have shaped as intensely experiences of passage, in the past as well as in the present. This project inquires into waiting in its conceptual, empirical, affectional and emotional components, including:

  • Its deployment as a way of governing societies and economies;
  • Its relation to capitalism, labour, idleness and productivity;
  • Its relation to the politics of scales (local, national and global);
  • The fluidity of boundaries and interactions between movement and waiting;
  • The experiences of waiting, its affects and effects;
  • Attributes and implications of waiting for conceptions of self and society;
  • Its uses in the politics of refugee, migration and crises as enforced waiting;
  • Techniques and technologies of waiting, including legal borders and smart borders;
  • Hospitality, hostility and flight; suspension in time and space;
  • Teleology of movement and waiting in politics of migration; denial of coevalness


Convenor: William O’Reilly (History)

Participants: members from Cambridge (UTOs and RAs), including History, Modern and Medieval Languages, Education, Criminology, and, members from Ludwig Maximilians Universitat and Central European University.