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Being-Here: Placemaking in a World of Movement

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Volume 35

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Placemaking in a World of Movement

Annika Lems

252 pages, 15 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-849-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2018)

ISBN  978-1-80073-440-1 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (May 2022)

eISBN 978-1-78533-850-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Based on a phenomenological approach, Being-Here is a well-executed example of how the analysis of everydayness can inform broader mobile realities in a globalized world… By emphasizing the multilayered paradoxes entangled in the process of emplacement and displacement, this ethnography contributes greatly to anthropological understandings of place-making, experiences of migration, and mobility in general.” • Tsantsa

“Lems tells her stories with literary flair and invokes plenty of great concepts to think with…One of the key strengths of Lems’ book is bringing the complexity [of place making] onto the page in a beautiful and meaningful way…[It] provides much needed depth and breadth to better understand the refugee experience in Australia and deserve a wide readership beyond anthropology and the academy.” • The Australian Journal of Anthropology

“This book is a wonderful illustration of engaged scholarship. It is a coproduction of three talented storytellers (the author and the two main participants)… This is an important standpoint in a context whereby both bureaucratic labels and public discourses tend to essentialize the experiences of displaced people.” • Social & Cultural Geography

“Lems’ book will be of interest to both students and more advanced scholars of (forced) migration research and existential anthropology. It is an important contribution to the timely debate on displacement, it contains good examples for critical engagement with research methodology and it is exceptionally well-written.” • Ethnos

“…an impressive book. It demonstrates the power of storytelling among people who were born in a country famed for its love of the art of storytelling…a thought-provoking book unravelling the key role of storytelling in migrants’ movements, place-making and everyday struggle. Her study breaks out of the tautologies of the study of international migration, manifesting the openness, in its ambiguities and potentials, of human life.” • Anthropology News [Listen to the full review here...]

“What makes Lems’ insights unusually powerful is her skill in writing sensitively and sensuously from within the highly particular experience of her two main interlocutors, capturing the incipient and vernacular modes in which space and place figure in their consciousness in different contexts, and in relation to different events.  As an essay in phenomenological anthropology, this is groundbreaking work. As an empirically-grounded contribution to an existential anthropology of minor modes of being, it may be second to none.” • Michael D. Jackson, Harvard University

“This compelling monograph leaves us with a wonderfully clear and moving sense of the existential predicaments of displacement in a globalized world, explored through three Somali protagonists’ life stories. Written and conceived in the existential phenomenological vein, this is a strong and well-written ethnography and a moving testament to the power of story-telling to redress the obstacles of migrant life and to reclaim meaning and direction in the circumstances we are thrown into.” • Hans Lucht, Danish Institute for International Studies


Exploring the lifeworlds of Halima, Omar and Mohamed, three middle-aged Somalis living in Melbourne, Australia, the author discusses the interrelated meanings of emplacement and displacement as experienced in people’s everyday lives. Through their experiences of displacement and placemaking, Being-Here examines the figure of the refugee as a metaphor for societal alienation and estrangement, and moves anthropological theory towards a new understanding of the crucial existential links between Sein (Being) and Da (Here).

Annika Lems is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. She completed her PhD at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. Her work is influenced by existential and phenomenological approaches in anthropology and philosophy, and her research focuses on the themes of mobility and immobility, place and displacement, visual and narrative storytelling, and memory and temporality.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Mobility Studies


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