The online articles published this October in our journal, Mobilities, have, as always, illustrated the inspiring diversity of mobilities research, showcasing the many ways mobilities concepts can be creatively applied and utilised in innovative research on interdisciplinary and international scales. From the transnational social space of medical travel between Indonesia and Malaysia, to the exploration of how Ai Weiwei’s most recent works can be used to explore the emerging material aesthetics that open alternative dialogues on migration flows and mobilities futures, here is the summary of our October online articles:
Waiting in motion: mapping postcolonial fiction, new mobilities, and migration through Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West
While mobilities studies have often drawn on postcolonial theory, few studies draw on the unique contributions of postcolonial literature. This article charts new directions for mobilities studies and postcolonial literature through an analysis of Mohsin Hamid’s 2017 novel Exit West. The novel shows how the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ could be usefully extended by paying more attention to migration as an expression of the way that mobility and immobility exist in complex relation to one another, especially with regard to the affective and existential experiences of waiting that persist even after arrival. I suggest that contemporary fiction, such as Exit West, interacts with and shapes cultural imaginaries around mobilities and migrancy; Hamid’s use of irrealist and fantastic modes challenges readers to entertain normative claims about the world. In addition to outlining the potential contributions of postcolonial fiction to mobilities studies, I conclude with an overview of the new directions that mobilities studies offer for postcolonial studies as well.
Art and materiality in the global refugee crisis: Ai Weiwei’s artworks and the emerging aesthetics of mobilities
Prominent artists and activists have documented, collected and appropriated discarded materials of refugee journeys, such as life jackets, rafts and clothing, transforming them into largescale artworks. Material belongings play an important role in migration experiences. However, materials are often used as representational measures of rights to movement, mode of travel and refugee status. This article explores how the mobilisation and transformation of materials into artworks raises questions on the material agencies operating within global representations of refugee mobilities. Discussing recent artworks of Ai Weiwei, I explore the emerging material aesthetics that open alternative dialogues on migration flows and mobilities futures.
How can we conceptualize travel in search of fertility treatment? While current research on transnational reproduction mostly conceptualizes mobility as horizontal movement from A to B, this article shows how horizontal mobilities converge, contradict, and are interdependent with other forms of mobility; namely vertical mobilities in terms of social upward and downward mobility, representational mobilities in form of imaginative geographies, and the actual embodied experiences of mobility. Based on ethnographic research on the reproductive tourism industry in Mexico, the article explores the multiplicity of mobilities that constitute transnational reproduction. The article evaluates how the concept of multiple mobilities contributes to the study of medical tourism from a critical mobilities’ perspective.
This paper is about transnational cancer care in Asia. People with terminal diseases such as cancer increasingly escape devastating prognosis of their local regimes of clinical diagnostic truth by traveling to destinations where medicine is more advanced, yet affordable for them, and hence offers a broader scope for hope. The paper suggests that transnational cancer care provides an instructive case of the enormous geographical disparities in the availability of therapies and how this, combined with economies of hope and the marketization of health care, affects patients and their family caregivers. The primary contribution of the paper is the introduction of the concept of relational subjectivities to the health mobilities literature. The findings presented proof that the concept provides a fruitful analytical lens, yielding not only fresh empirical insights but prompting re-conceptualizations of medical travel itself as hopeful, yet risky transnational acts of family care.
Baby on board: the impact of sling use on experiences of family mobility with babies and young children
Today many parents in the UK are choosing to carry their children in slings. Despite this, there has been no research on how babywearing might change families’ experiences of journey-making. Based on interviews with parents in the North of England, this paper uses literatures on affects and mobilities design to contribute to a growing range of studies on infant mobilities. In doing so, it extends our understanding of the importance of relationality in family mobility practices and highlights the importance of understanding the dynamism of mobility during early family life.
Sociality and transnational social space in the making of medical tourism: local actors and Indonesian patients in Malaysia
We investigate international medical travel between Indonesia and Malaysia through the conceptual lens of sociality, transnational social space and therapeutic mobilities. Drawing upon narratives of local persons, medical traveller-patients, accompanying family members, hospital staff and medical travel facilitators, we illustrate how multifaceted linkages and processes generate and sustain the flow of patients across the border. In these narratives, we see multiple mobilities articulate and cross-cut in the building of transnational connections. This paper stretches the concept of transnational social space to apply to medical travel and contributes to the literature framing of international medical travel as a complex and multifaceted arena.
Global climate change has altered the efficacy of traditional responses to flooding in Bangladesh and has necessitated the adoption of new actions, social networks and mobilities to strengthen the ongoing viability of the community. These changes need to be accompanied by appropriate government responses. We examined these changing mobilities in Bangladesh by first classifying them according to the relevant characteristics of emergency mobilities as described by Adey (anticipation, coordination, absence and difference) and then applying, as appropriate, one or more of Sheller and Urry’s six essential bodies of mobility theory to provide a dynamic analysis from which to generate policy responses. Major findings specific to Bangladesh include the criticality of social networks and the mobility of gender roles due to flood-related migration. The policy implications, situated at the confluence of cultural tradition, the imperative to survive and current government policy which does not encourage mobility, focus on reconceptualising the use of land space to envisage a new paradigm of support for emergency mobility and resourcing people movement. Future research could apply this novel data analysis approach to other migration situations, with the purpose of informing emergency mobility policy.
Intertwined therapeutic mobilities: knowledge, plants, healers on the move between Laos and the U.S.
We investigate the notion of therapeutic mobilities through the case study of transnational health care practices and medicinal flows within the Hmong diaspora between Laos and the U.S. Drawing upon narratives of traditional healers, pickers, and plant sellers, as well as a collection of postal registers, we highlight how therapeutic mobilities follow the routes of migration and organize the practices of healing among Hmong in receiving countries, particularly in the U.S. Through the different and multidirectional aspects of therapeutic mobilities, we illustrate how transnational healing touches upon questions of cultural identity within the Hmong diaspora. Therapeutic mobilities not only involve border-crossing, they also strengthen existing bonds within the Hmong diaspora. Similarly, herbal treatments not only achieve a therapeutic function, they also represent a range of meanings and values for patients. We explore the fabric of therapeutic mobilities through the prism of translocality and medical pluralism.
Reframing Jewish mobilities: de-nationalized/non-territorialized, racialized, and hybrid identities among Israeli immigrants in Canada
In this article, I share the voices of diverse Jewish-Israeli immigrants who cross racial, cultural, and political boundaries as they discuss their cultural diasporic identities and belongings in Israel, in Toronto, and elsewhere along their personal and familial journeys of migration. Participants’ narratives illustrate that the geographies of Jewish diaspora are not simple locations in time and space that can be mapped based on the mobility from one nation state to another. Some migrants understand their Jewish diasporic identities in de-nationalized, cosmopolitan term, while others understand their Jewish diasporic identities as being inherently multiple, fluid, and hybrid. However, what is common among the participants is that they require scholars to stretch and re-form ethno-national Zionist geographies of social care, kinship, and belonging that are emphasized in the existing literature on the Israeli diaspora.
The global migration of Filipino nurses has received significant attention, yet little is known of these healthcare workers’ experiences and mobilities within the Philippines. I explore the experiences and narratives of Filipino nurses living in Manila, some of whom have no desires to migrate. I uncover the often novel forms of therapeutic mobilities undertaken by these nurses, focusing on call centre nursing and entrepreneurship as key alternative career pathways within the realms of ‘therapeutics’. Through interrogating the various mobilities undertaken by nurses – physical mobilities and migration, socioeconomic mobilities and occupational mobilities in the form of a career change – it becomes clear that international physical mobility is no longer key. Nevertheless, Filipino nurses continue to provide care in global contexts in novel ‘therapeutic’ industries and doing so allows them to increase their socioeconomic mobility.
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