John Urry's books at LU, waiting to be shipped

Monika explains which books she's taking to Sao Paulo now

Monika Büscher and Bianca Freire-Medeiros are working to establish a John Urry Library section at the University of São Paulo (USP)

Monika is just about to travel to São Paulo with the first set of books and to work with colleagues and students during the SPMobilities2017 Summer School. As part of the summer school we will try to find ways of getting John’s books – which are currently held at Lancaster’s University Library – over to São Paulo – a complex cargo mobility story!

These are books from John’s personal library, from his home and his office at Lancaster University. Once established, the library will be an open resource for the global network of mobilities scholars.

The idea of locating the books at the Foundation of the School of Sociology and Politics at the University of São Paulo (USP) is to deepen existing research relationships between Cemore and the Social Sciences School at USP and open up opportunities for collaboration with scholars in South America and globally. There will be opportunities to visit USP and there will also be an online portal.

Cemore has close links with USP, Brazil’s most prestigious university. USP was founded in 1933, in response to political and economic turmoil, with the Free School of Sociology and Politics (ELSP) (the current Foundation of the Social Sciences School). These sociological origins have attracted scholars from around the world, including Claude Lévi-Strauss and Fernand Braudel as Visiting Professors. John Urry visited several times (last 2011), Monika Buscher has travelled virtually (2011) and several scholars connected to USP have spent time at Lancaster, including Saulo Cwerner (PhD 2006-2009), Bianca Freire-Medeiros (1 year postdoc 2009), Ariane Fernandes da Conceição (6 month Visiting PhD 2015), Camila Dos Santos Moraes (6 month Visiting PhD 2016), Thiago Allis (Visiting Speaker 2016). These relationships have resulted in joint research outputs, including the book Aeromobilities (Routledge 2009, Cwerner, Kesselring, Urry).

Mobilities Research in Brazil is a burgeoning field, currently inspired predominantly by John Urry’s The Tourist Gaze, but discovering the rich seams of insight in his later books, including After the Car, Mobilities, Offshoring and What is the Future?, and work on Mobile Methods (Monika Büscher), Mobility and the Humanities (Lynne Pearce), International business travel (James Faulconbridge), Migration studies (Anne-Marie Fortier), art and Creative practice as mobile method (Jen Southern).  

São Paulo is pioneering mobilities innovations. In one of his more recent analyses, Living in the City (2014), John Urry characterises São Paulo as ‘at the vanguard’ of deep mobility and social transformations. He foresees urban futures that involve ‘fortressed’ walled cities and an extensive ‘security-isation’ of populations, similar in some ways to cities in the medieval period which provided protection against raiders, invaders and diseases, where ‘the rich would mainly travel in the air in armed helicopters or light aircraft, a pattern prefigured in Sao Paulo’.

By placing John Urry’s books as a complete library in the University of São Paulo, under the supervision of Bianca Freire-Medeiros, Professor of Sociology, a unique resource for thousands of students and scholars in Brazil would be created. USP is involved in teaching, research and public sociology that seeks to shape futures. Bianca is a world-leading scholar on tourism and development. Material for her book Touring Poverty (2013) was developed during her stay at Lancaster. Most recently, she has been awarded with a Tinker Visiting Professor scholarship to spend time at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin and Tinker Foundation.

In collaboration with scholars at Lancaster University, Bianca and her colleagues would strive to establish the John Urry library as a global hub for research, transdisciplinary conversations and public sociology endeavours on mobilities futures research.