Going Mobile Yet Holding Still

By: Rawand Elhour  

Influenced by globalisation research over the past years, many sociolinguists called for starting from mobility to understand language learning and social interaction ‘on the move’. For example, language has been theorised as portable repertoires (Blommaert, 2010) and was called upon to be ‘un-moored’ (Phipps, 2012). However,this focus on mobility and flowing seems to flatten differential access to it. Mobility is not simply getting from A to B. ‘Who gets to move?,How? and on what pace is mobility experienced?’are all questions that challenge perceptions of immobility as an ‘unrealistic option’ in the ‘moving sands’ of globalisation (Bauman, 1998). Encounters/interaction in contexts of mobility and globalisation are the central issue of my research,which investigates the sociolinguistic trajectories of Palestinian postgraduate students in UK HE. Inspired by the difficult experiences of many of my participants to travel from local contexts of very restricted mobility, i.e. besieged Gaza Strip,to pursue their higher education in the UK, I call for re-thinking mobility in relation to immobility/stuckness/stillness, or ‘moorings’ by foregrounding these terms/relationships in particular contexts,geographies,and histories. Drawing on insights from Human Geography and migration research, I borrow the notion of ‘turbulence’ as a theoretical tool to capture the complexity, instability, and uncertainty of Palestinian journeys to/encounters in the UK. These trajectories are replete with periods of stillness and are originated in long,extreme turbulence in the form of the ceaseless stuckness imposed on Palestinians. Here, turbulence is both a backdrop and a constituent of the (im)mobility experience. Stillness is as turbulent as movement in this context.

Sociolinguistics, Mobility, Palestinian sojourners, Turbulence, Globalisation
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Rawand Elhour

PhD scholar and lecturer , Media, Culture and Language, University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom
United Kingdom