In migration scholarship, the migrant body has recently begun to gain recognition as a productive analytical scale for exploring politics of mobility: the highly differentiated ways in which migration is accessed and lived. However, a tendency to treat bodies as sites of gendered and racialized suffering can obscure migrant agency and differentiation as well as the ways in which migrant bodies can also be seen as sites of resistance and achievement. This paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the ways in which mobility politics shape divergent migrant trajectories by putting forward a translocal embodiment perspective. The paper argues that migrant bodies constitute key sites of struggle over mobility, and that looking at migrant embodied practice in translocal context can further unravel the differentiations that shape migrant trajectories across space and time. The paper’s argument builds on theoretical notions of intersectionality, embodied cultural capital and translocality to enrich the discussion of mobility politics. Empirically, it draws on multi-sited ethnographic research with Nicaraguan families, focusing on female Nicaraguan migrants working in informal domestic employment in Spain, to explore how bodies and embodied practices matter throughout these migrants’ trajectories. In particular, the paper intends to do justice to migrant agency by exploring how bodies that are often victimized can also be considered as stratified resources of translocal negotiation. The translocal embodiment perspective put forward in the paper shows that migrant bodies constitute a multi-faceted, non-erasable component of the unsettled yet situated mobility politics that shape divergent trajectories.

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International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Winters, S.W.S. (2020). Beyond the bird in the cage? Translocal embodiment and trajectories of Nicaraguan female migrants in Seville, Spain. Geoforum. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.05.019