Migration as survival: Withheld stories and the limits of ethnographic knowability

Perl, Gerhild (2019). Migration as survival: Withheld stories and the limits of ethnographic knowability (In Press). Migration and Society Berghahn

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How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called ‘migration as survival’ by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living-through a life-threatening event and as living-on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim Other. By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Perl, Gerhild


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology






[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Gerhild Perl

Date Deposited:

15 Nov 2018 15:18

Last Modified:

15 Nov 2018 15:18



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