Western University AntropologyWestern Social Science

Borders, Identities and Mobility

This research strand deals with identities and the movement of people (forced and voluntary) in relation to shifting, disappearing and emerging borders/boundaries in the past and present. Our work in this area covers topics including refugees, displacement and identity, labour migration, the history of borderlands and indigenous peoples, indigenous language and ethnic identity, and First Nations patterns of movement between towns and reserves.

Faculty working in this area of research specialization include:

A. Kim Clark - My recent research on public health and state formation in Ecuador in the first half of the twentieth century examines social change associated with accelerating rural-urban migrations, as well as the effects of public health projects carried out by urban professionals in rural areas during this period. More broadly, in much of my research I have analyzed processes of identity formation along gendered, ethnic, national and class lines in Ecuador in a number of contexts.

Regna Darnell

Randa Farah - My interest in refugees, exilic cultures, humanitarian aid, and memory/identity is now focused in North Africa, namely, the refugees of Western Sahara, both in the Sahrawi refugee camps located in the harsh and inhospitable Algerian desert and the significant Sahrawi exile communities in Spain and Mauritania. I am currently examining how a stateless nation embarked on building a nation-state in exile, ready to be transported in the future to national territory upon independence. In this context, I am tracing the processes that accompanied the transformation of refugees-into-citizens, involving fundamental changes in the relationship between the individual, the family and the ‘state-in-exile,’ and by implication changes in generational and gender relations.

Tania Granadillo - One strand of my research among the Kurripako of the Northwest Amazon explores the complex relationship between dialects, phratries, evangelization, language maintenance and language loss, national boundaries and migration. Because the Kurripako are located within Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, there are many issues that influence indigenous language use that involve concepts of the nation, religion, identity, mobility, power and prestige.

Dan Jorgensen - One strand of my research in Papua New Guinea traces the implications for local identities of two kinds of state-sponsored demarcation: provincial boundaries and the definition of impact zones used in determining the allocation of benefits associated with mining. To these are added local efforts at place-making that seek to position identities in an imagined global geography in which Christianity plays an important role.

Jean-François Millaire - As an archaeologist specializing in the Andean region of South America, my primary research interests lie in early complex societies of the Peruvian littoral. My work in the field bought me to explore questions of ancient identities and population movement (exchange, interaction, conquest, colonization, forced displacement, etc.), as reflected in Prehispanic architecture, mortuary practices, ceramic production and the manufacture and use of textiles. In particular, ancient Andean textiles hold an enormous potential for documenting questions of cultural identity and group membership, and to study the movement of people across the landscape.

Christine White - Through isotopic analysis, I am reconstructing individual histories of geographic relocation. These studies are ongoing for ancient Mesoamerican populations and will be used in Peru and Egypt to test hypotheses of; 1) how group identities are maintained or assimilated in colonial and state formation/dissolution contexts, 2) invasion versus colonization, 3) the dynamics and membership involved in processes of migration.

 

Other Core Research Areas

Bioarchaeology and Archaeological Sciences

Environment, Culture and Political Ecology