VERANSTALTUNG: 5th Vienna Ethnography Lab: Mobilities and Care


The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna invites applications for:

Mobilities and Care.

Transformations of belonging and inequalities

5th Vienna Ethnography Lab, 2nd – 4th of July 2020

Mobility is inextricably linked to care. As people move from rural to urban areas, from one country to another, up and down social hierarchies, their ways of caring in families, across borders and between generations change, in turn feeding into new ways of belonging as well as transforming inequalities. Often these processes are experienced as challenging. Care is then temporalized and moralized as something that existed in the past but got lost due to mobility. It thus becomes marked as uncertain or lacking due to, for example, long-distance mobility and female labour participation. But mobility is also seen as a solution to care gaps as in regards to care migration or retirement migration. Such mobilities can transform gender and generational forms of caring. But they might also sustain them as well as ethnic categorizations and hierarchies. Care negotiations within families and beyond (as in discourses of humanity) thereby generate diverse forms of belonging from kinship to citizenship. These forms of membership encompass formal rights as well as the symbolic negotiation of access and participation mediated in diverse settings ranging from intergenerational contact in families, to state welfare agencies. The recognition of the ambivalence of care mobilities moves the conversation beyond whether they are good or bad and entails reaching out to ask questions of memory, classification and (in)equality.

Most often these dynamics of potential absence and presence that constitute care through mobility are investigated in distinct fields of research. The laboratory’s goal is to bring diverse strand of research together and provide a forum for intensive discussions of young scholars’ ongoing or recently completed research on these topics. The focus will be on questions of how new forms of mobility may trigger social transformations by challenging established hierarchies and/or by creating new inequalities. Possible examples include (but are not limited to): changes to care and belonging due to forced migration, “regimes of care” such as humanitarianism, retirement migration and female out-migration as they are negotiated respectively in refugee camps, retirement homes and welfare offices.

The laboratory offers a selected group of advanced PhD students and young post-doctoral scholars (max. 12 participants) the unique opportunity to discuss their work with two distinguished guest scholars and present their findings and ideas at an interdisciplinary forum.

Guest Scholars 2020

Prof. Angela Garcia (Stanford University)

Prof. Laura Merla (UC Louvain)


Prof. Tatjana Thelen (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Prof. Christoph Reinprecht (Department of Sociology)

Monika Palmberger, DPhil (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna; Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre, University of Leuven)


We invite prospective participants to send us their application by January 15, 2020. Applications should include a short motivation letter, a short CV, an abstract (250 words maximum) and an outline of research results (up to 5 pages) to be presented at the laboratory.

Please send your application to:

All applicants will be notified of the selection outcome by March 1, 2020.

Format and Organization

The laboratory is based on the discussion of pre-circulated papers, additionally to the guest scholars’ input presentations. Participants should hand in their full papers (up to 8000 words excluding the bibliography) to be distributed among all participants by
May 15. Participants are expected to read all papers in advance and comment – together with one guest scholar – at least on one of them during the workshop in order to initiate and open up an intense discussion. Coffee breaks and lunches are provided. There are no participation fees; however please note that the organizers cannot cover travel expenses or accommodation costs.


Monika Palmberger, DPhil

recent publications:

2019: Relational ambivalence: Exploring the social and discursive dimensions of ambivalence

International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

2019: Why alternative memory and place-making practices in divided cities matter

Space and Polity

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