On February 6th 2019 our Director Monika Buscher held a seminar for her Masters students on the topic of the New Mobilities Paradigm article, written by John Urry in 2006. To this seminar she invited our current visiting researchers Margherita Cisani (University of Padova), Jie Xhang (University of Han Noi) and our John Urry Fellow of 2018-19 Thiago Allis (University of San Paolo) to speak on the topic of mobilities and how it has shaped their respective research to her current students. This was a great opportunity for her students studying mobilities to see the diversity of the topic and how it can influence different topics of research ranging from the cultural impact of railways to the relationship between landscape and mobility. In the paragraphs below, I briefly cover the topics of each visiting researchers works, and how the theory of mobilities influenced their studies.
Margherita Cisani’s research is regarding the relationship between landscape and mobility on different levels; the material, representational and experiential level. Margherita is interested in exploring the collective and political dimension of this relationship and this will most likely be the path down which her research takes her. On a practical level, Margherita’s research is related to how we perceive but also learn, read and apprehend our everyday landscapes, not just the exceptional ones and encourage us to be more aware of our everyday landscapes and our role in their transformation. In particular, the New Mobilities Paradigm challenged her studies and encouraged her to learn new research methods to study landscape and mobility.
Thiago Allis’ research is based around urban tourism, regional and urban planning and tourism mobilities. Thiago’s research projects over the last few years have sought to converge reflections on tourism and mobilities in the perspective of the social sciences (under the umbrella of the New Mobilities Paradigm) and aimed to build a new understanding on tourism as a mobile phenomenon. Thiago is also interested in the clashes over the “right to tourism” in the context of multi-scale mobilities that go beyond the well-known field of economics and bring about new references to cope with global tourism conceptually and empirically.
Jie Xhang’s research focuses on the cultural politics of railways; mobilities theory and practice research in contemporary western criticism. Jie is interested in exploring the new changes inside the mobilities paradigm, since Mimi Sheller and John Urry published The New Mobilities Paradigm in 2006 and 8 years later, Sheller published The New Mobilities Paradigm for a Live Sociology (2014) and in this time, new and big changes have taken place. Jie begins with the possibility that in the beginning, the mobilities paradigm focused on the idea that all the world seems to be on the move and that mobilities was a general and positive principle of modernity meaning we should undermine sedentarist theories. Therefore, for now, mobilities researchers should first redefine some of these above ideas. Jie argues thet mobility is not only a contemporary state but also historical; mobility is not only about being mobile but also about stillness, immobility; mobility is not romantic but a question of tracking the power of discourses, practices and infrastructures of mobility. Mobilities are differentiated, political and paradoxical mobilities, and mobility capital is a new keyword.