when the dispersed maintain community through memories of place, when people move but find that they cannot stop moving
I have followed these questions in East Africa, the Arctic, and the Mediterranean. In Kenya a community of Digiri known for hunting begin living among pastoralist Maasai. They adopt agriculture and lose the mobility of their ancestors. Christian missions come to teach morality, NGOs preach gender equality, schools say give us your children and they will prosper. As they stop moving men and women take on distinct roles tilling the land, an elite few emerge to extract resources from those who harvest, a new social order takes hold.
The Wolof migrants from Senegal come to Europe for a better life, for adventure, or just because. Some don’t want to return to the old colonial power of France, so they turn their vision toward Spain instead. When they try to settle, to stop moving, they are denied papers. Selling on the streets, like their extended families of Wolof merchants in Senegal and now in Spain, they draw up the cords of their white blankets when they see police, pick up loose sunglasses and bags. They descend underground and ride line 1 to ascend new streets. They keep moving.
Relocating from the Kola Peninsula to Finnish forests felt like the only way for the Skolt Sami. Their children grew up there, went to foreign boarding schools. Then the roads were built south and their children followed. Now the people who stay in those forests, along those roads, they carve the trees into boats, the same boats as in Kola. They peel backyard pine to eat the inner bark, not because they are hungry, but because they want to survive. To nourish a sense of rootedness through movement.