The centre cannot hold: Arrival, margins, and the politics of ambivalence introduction to ‘arrival at the margins’, a special issue of migration studies
This special issue calls on scholars to simultaneously centre and unsettle the margin: to recognise the multiplicity of margins as politically generative spaces, frequently contoured by sustained and varied forms of mobility. Taken together, the studies collected in this volume are a call to view margins as vital socio-political spaces and objects of study. They are created, transformed, or maintained through interactions among the multiple ethnic, political, or religious groups within it but also through connections to allies, families, and interlocutors elsewhere that people in the margins draw in. Powerful states, corporations, and other play a role, but the contributors do not presume they are the most significant force at play. To be sure, margins can reflect liminality and suspension, but they are also sites of contentious politics. As space–time compression, multi-localism, economic precarity, and political fragmentation continue apace, margins are decreasingly discrete spaces between, but are instead spaces where lives are made. As sites that help structure engagements among groups—and sometimes within the groups themselves—appear and fade, margins take on varied levels of significance as contestations and convivialities take shape and transform. They are multiple, often intersecting, sometimes geographic and formally demarcated, sometimes largely invisible or unspoken but no less powerful. And they can be anywhere.