New Special Issue in Social Identities (2017): Patterns of im/mobility, conflict and the re/making of identity narratives

The special issue was edited by PACSA member and host of our 2015 summit in Frankfurt, Birgit Bräuchler (Monash University, Melbourne)

Access the introduction to the special issue here.


This paper analyses the interrelationship between patterns of im/mobility on the one hand and the reconstitution of social collective identities and the related emergence or settlement of conflicts on the other. The main arguments are (1) that the im/mobility of a social or cultural group has major impact on how identity narratives, a sense of belonging and relationships to ‘others’ are shaped, and vice versa, and (2) that these dynamics are closely interlinked with mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion between groups and power structures that involve a broad variety of actors. Mainly looking at patterns of internal mobility such as ‘traditional’ or strategic mobilities and mobilities enforced by crisis, conflict or governmental programmes and regimes, the contribution provides the conceptual background for a special issue that aims to go beyond currently predominant issues of transnational migration. Established or emerging dynamics of (non-)integration and belonging, caused by im/mobility, are analysed on a cultural and political level, which involves questions of representation, indigeneity/autochthony, political rights and access to land and other resources. Conflict situations in contexts of mobility involve changes in the social understanding and renegotiation, reconstruction or reproduction of group identities and narratives with reference to certain socio-political and historical patterns. The legitimation of rights and access to various forms of citizenship and mobility need to be understood against the backdrop of emerging or established mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion between groups, which trigger or settle conflicts and make social identities to be constantly renegotiated.

Table of Content (incl. DOIs):

Bräuchler, B., & Ménard, A. (2017). Patterns of im/mobility, conflict and the re/making of identity narrativesSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281418

Siraj, N., & Bal E. (2017). ‘Hunger has brought us into this jungle’: Understanding mobility and immobility of Bengali immigrants in Chittagong Hills of BangladeshSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281443

Ménard, A. (2017). Interpreting conflict and integration through the reciprocity lens: Mobility and settlement in a historical perspective on the Sierra Leonean coastSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281459

Bedert, M. (2017). The complementarity of divergent historical imaginations: Narratives of mobility and alterity in contemporary LiberiaSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281467

Bräuchler, B. (2017). Changing patterns of mobility, citizenship and conflict in IndonesiaSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281468

Sakti, V. K. (2017). Im/mobile subjects: Identity, conflict and emotion work among East Timorese Meto diasporaSocial Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281469

Borch, S. (2017). In ‘no man’s land’: The im/mobility of Serb NGO workers in Kosovo.Social Identities. doi:10.1080/13504630.2017.1281470

The Cultural Dimension of Peace: Decentralization and Reconciliation in Indonesia, by Birgit Bräuchler

The Cultural Dimension of Peace outlines an emerging cultural turn in peace studies. Taking an anthropological view of decentralization and peace processes in Indonesia as its central focus, it provides an informed understanding of the cultural dimension of reconciliation that is essential for the reintegration of societies that have undergone mass violence and long-lasting conflict. Bräuchler’s study warns of one-sided instrumentalization or harmonization theories, and promotes a critical stance towards the use of ‘culture’, ‘tradition’ and ‘the local’ in peacebuilding. Her focus is on intra-state violence between groups defined by ethnicity, religion or other sub-national (or transnational) collective identities. Based on multi-sited and multi-temporal ethnographic fieldwork, this book develops an approach that opens up spaces and sets a new standard for peace and conflict studies and the anthropology of peace.


1. The Emerging Cultural Turn in Peace Research

2. Decentralization, Revitalization and Reconciliation in Indonesia

3. Conflict and Peacebuilding in Maluku

4. Reconciliation and the Revival of Tradition

5. The Reinvention of Traditional Leadership

6. Indigenous People, Migrants and Refugees: A Clash of Individual and Cultural Human Rights

7. Concluding Reflections: Toward a New Anthropology of Peace

Interested? Order the book at Palgrave

About the author

Dr. habil. Birgit Bräuchler is Senior Lecturer of Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne. Her research interests lie in peace and conflict studies; media and cyber anthropology; cultural rights; and Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. She is the author and editor of several books and has published widely in peer-reviewed journals.


Soldiering under Occupation by Erella Grassiani

A new book by Erella Grassiani saw its launch at the Bi-Annual PACSA event in Copenhagen on August 29th 2013.

Often, violent behavior or harassment from a soldier is dismissed by the military as unacceptable acts by individuals termed, “rotten apples.” In this study, the author argues that this dismissal is unsatisfactory and that there is an urgent need to look at the (mis)behavior of soldiers from a structural point of view. When soldiers serve as an occupational force, they find themselves in a particular situation influenced by structural circumstances that heavily influence their behavior and moral decision-making. This study focuses on young Israeli men and their experiences as combat soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), particularly those who served in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (OPT) during the “Al Aqsa Intifada,” which broke out in 2000. In describing the soldiers’ circumstances, especially focusing on space, the study shows how processes of numbing on different levels influence the (moral) behavior of these soldiers.

Erella Grassiani is currently Lecturer in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Amsterdam. Her work focuses on military and security issues in Israel.


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