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Adjustment Practices: Proposal for a Post-Displacement Anthropology


· Sanderien Verstappen University of Tuebingen (Tuebingen, Germany)


07/28 | 12:00-12:20 UTC+2/CEST


If South Asia scholars have often examined the causes and immediate consequences of displacement, few have examined the longer-term processes through which people rearrange their personal, professional and social lives after an episode of violence. How do people move on with their lives after experiencing displacement? How, in the process, are new spaces, societies, and subjectivities made? In this presentation, I propose to address these questions through a focus on practices. Studying practices of adjustment and reorientation, in an ethnographic way, will enable research to explore how people respond to displacement while they (re)shape their lives under changing conditions. I have developed this focus on post-displacement adjustment practices during my research in Gujarat and among overseas Gujaratis in the period 2010-2018. As a result of the anti-Muslim pogroms of Gujarat in 2002, an estimated 200,000 refugees fled their homes; in the fifteen years thereafter, when cities and towns were reorganised along religious lines in response to the violence, many more people left their homes in order to seek safe residence with members of their “own” community. Not only spaces changed in this period: aspirations, relations, and mobility patterns also changed. In order to understand these longer-term consequences, which developed relatively slowly and implicitly, the research needed to move beyond the established vocabulary of “reconstruction”, “relief”, “representation” and “(in)justice”. It instead focused on everyday social and economic practices to explore ethnographically how Gujarati Muslims have (re)shaped their lives in the post-2002 con