Cover of Moving Matters by Susan Ossman
Moving Matters
Paths of Serial Migration
Susan Ossman

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2013
200 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804770286
Paper ISBN: 9780804770293

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Moving Matters is a richly nuanced portrait of the serial migrant: a person who has lived in several countries, calling each one at some point "home." The stories told here are both extraordinary and increasingly common. Serial migrants rarely travel freely—they must negotiate a world of territorial borders and legal restrictions—yet as they move from one country to another, they can use border-crossings as moments of self-clarification. They often become masters of settlement as they turn each country into a life chapter.

Susan Ossman follows this diverse and growing population not only to understand how paths of serial movement produce certain ways of life, but also to illuminate an ongoing tension between global fluidity and the power of nation-states. Ultimately, her lyrical reflection on migration and social diversity offers an illustration of how taking mobility as a starting point fundamentally alters our understanding of subjectivity, politics, and social life.

About the author

Susan Ossman is author of Picturing Casablanca: Portraits of Power in a Modern City (1994) and Three Faces of Beauty: Casablanca, Cairo, Paris (2002). She has held academic positions in Morocco, France, the UK, and the US, and she currently teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

"Susan Ossman's most recently published book entitled Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration offers its readers a welcomed change as she presents her analysis in an original manner that makes this book a joy to read. At the same time, by maneuvering skillfully between her ethnographic data and her thought-provoking analysis of it, she succeeds to add new insights concerning the topic she set out to study . . . Besides offering nuanced insights for scholars dealing with topics such as migration, mobility, borders, and home, Ossman's book will also be highly useful for students in the field of anthropology and ethnology. The latter recommendation for readers is grounded in my argument that this book can be seen to provide one of the finest examples for how one may go about analyzing data that have been collected by means of ethnographic field work, and how to present it in the form of a written ethnography."

—Laura Hirvi, Nordic Journal of Migration Research

"[A]n extended essay that tries to weave together her own experiences moving among countries, her interviews with other serial migrants, and her engagement with a theoretical literature, mostly on migration and identity. . . . Recommended."

—D. W. Haines, Choice

"This deeply personal and subtle work both critiques and transcends the key concepts of writing about identity in recent decades. It instead invests itself in the experience of serial migration as the focus for working through the unresolvable binds of existence that permanent resettlement in a foreign society engenders. The precision and originality of Ossman's exploration owe much to the richness of her fieldwork and research on individuals, including herself, who move from one, to another, and then another society in their lifetimes."

—George Marcus, University of California, Irvine