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Keeping People in Place: Political Factors of (Im)mobility and Climate Change


  • Caroline Zickgraf

    (Department of Geography, Faculty of Sciences, The Hugo Observatory: Environment, Migration, Politics, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium)


While those ‘trapped’ or who choose to stay in areas affected by climate change represent a substantial policy issue, there only a small amount of empirical work specifically targeting such populations. The scant attention that is afforded to immobility often emphasizes financial constraints as factors driving (involuntary) immobility. As an essential part of the mobility spectrum, the complexity of immobility in crisis, including its political dimensions, warrants thorough investigation. In response to these gaps, this contribution locates environmental immobility within mobilities studies, its conceptual complexities, and, finally, illustrates the importance of political factors in shaping (im)mobilities. The findings are based on semi-structured interviews conducted in two developing countries experiencing the impacts of climate change. We delve into the socio-cultural and economic nature of (im)mobilities as they interact with political forces, specifically by exploring international bilateral agreements (Senegal) and a relocation program (Vietnam). In political spaces that are dominated by a desire to limit human mobility and (re)produce stasis, we challenge traditional dichotomies between mobile/immobile and sedentary/migration polices by underlining how policy interventions can simultaneously promote mobility and immobility, demonstrating complex co-existing mobilities. Keeping people in place can, in fact, mean allowing the very same people to move.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Zickgraf, 2019. "Keeping People in Place: Political Factors of (Im)mobility and Climate Change," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 8(8), pages 1-17, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:8:y:2019:i:8:p:228-:d:252784

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Liz Koslov & Alexis Merdjanoff & Elana Sulakshana & Eric Klinenberg, 2021. "When rebuilding no longer means recovery: the stress of staying put after Hurricane Sandy," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 165(3), pages 1-21, April.
    2. Robert McLeman & David Wrathall & Elisabeth Gilmore & Philip Thornton & Helen Adams & François Gemenne, 2021. "Conceptual framing to link climate risk assessments and climate-migration scholarship," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 165(1), pages 1-7, March.
    3. Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson & Noralene Uy, 2022. "Island Stories: Mapping the (im)mobility trends of slow onset environmental processes in three island groups of the Philippines," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 1-18, December.
    4. Katy Davis & James D. Ford & Claire H. Quinn & Anuszka Mosurska & Melanie Flynn & IHACC Research Team & Sherilee L. Harper, 2022. "Shifting Safeties and Mobilities on the Land in Arctic North America: A Systematic Approach to Identifying the Root Causes of Disaster," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(12), pages 1-23, June.
    5. Choirul Amin & Sukamdi Sukamdi & Rijanta Rijanta, 2021. "Exploring Migration Hold Factors in Climate Change Hazard-Prone Area Using Grounded Theory Study: Evidence from Coastal Semarang, Indonesia," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(8), pages 1-18, April.

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