Mobility Intersections, Lancaster Centre for Mobilities Research Lancaster University Home Page
6-7 July 2015 at Lancaster University UK
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The major talks from this conference are now available online -

David Tyfield, Mimi Sheller, & Monika Buscher - Introduction

Louise Amoore - The Work of the Border in the Age of Digital Mobility

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” (Walter Benjamin, Illuminations: 214).
The row of Visionbox automated border gates gleams, a glass and steel promise of biometrically secured mobilities. Every sixteen seconds experienced at the border is a time of sovereign decision, when the e-gate “reaches back into enriched databases” to read and assess the border-crosser’s claim to mobility. Machine readable travel document and biometric template commune with analogue signatures on identity papers and digital signatures on visa applications. Yet, just as the border line is extended in time and space – invoked in anticipation of a possible arrival, and long after a territorial boundary is crossed – so its digital reproduction flattens the border’s violences, its depth of experience of mobility, and its human temporality of duration.
In this paper I read the work of the contemporary automated border alongside the work of Pakistani artist Bani Abidi. In her series of digital inkjet prints, Security Barriers A-L (2008), Abidi extracts nine vector-drawn barriers from the “place where they happen to be” in the architecture of Karachi streets. Arranging her prints in a 3x3 grid, from shipping containers designed to thwart suicide bomb attacks to the green blast-proof planters of the British High Commission, Abidi invites the observer to confront the border line anew. The digital inkjet medium is infinitely reproducible, its computational visuality appearing to inscribe a scientific or mathematical calculus to the border line. Within this spatial flattening of the border, though, Abidi illuminates the border multiple, the plural moments of political and aesthetic interruption and transgression.

Bani Abidi images

(Bani Abidi, Security Barriers A-L).

Claudia Aradau - Regulating mobility, securing circulation:  untimely politics at the Counter Terror Expo

Every year at the end of April London hosts a counter-terrorism exposition, where the latest security technologies are on display. A paraphernalia of objects meant to bring security are offered to institutions, companies and consumers from across the world: from screening technology for liquids to biometrics, from night vision cameras to perimeter protection, and from digital and surveillance technologies and military apparel. A conference, public seminars and secret NATO security briefings also take place within the capacious remit of the exposition. The Counter-terror expo is a dense collection of people and objects, of technologies and magazines, of seminars and sales pitches, of experts and consumers. In this sense, the exposition is still a ‘place of pilgrimage to the fetish commodity’ (Benjamin 2002 [1972]). Yet, the fetish commodities at the counter-terror expo are new sorts of commodities: ones whose production and global circulation promise security against the dangers of excessive mobility.

This paper problematises the relation between mobility and circulation in the neoliberal governmentality of security by drawing out the different temporalities that mobility and circulation entail. The circulation of commodities can be understood through the temporality of the new as 'ever-always-the-same' (Osborne, 2005). The production of new technologies secures forms of neoliberal governmentality and the reproduction of capitalism. In this sense, the security motto of 'expect the unexpected' is harnessed to a modern temporality of expectation which does not interrupt the continuity of the present into the future. Mobility, however, challenges the temporality of expectation by introducing competing temporalities of interruption. Security experts problematise mobility as a source of danger, given its capacity to generate shock and surprise. Mobility derails circulation given the ways in which mobility always presupposes a subject that circulation disavows: the mob captures the danger that mobility harbours and the promise of its untimely politics.

Malene Freudendal-Pedersen & Sven Kesselring - Mobilities Futures & the City: Changing perspectives through intersections

Mobilities and the CityThe future of cities and regions will be strongly shaped by the mobilities of people, goods, modes of transport, waste, information and signs. In many ways the ‘WHY’ and ‘FOR WHAT’ gets often lost in discourses on planning and designing mobilities. The predominant planning paradigm is still ‘technocentric’. It conceptualizes the future of cities and mobilities as a matter of rather more efficient technologies than of social cohesion, integration and connectivity.
Optimizing flows and managing seamless mobility on a systemic level are the overarching paradigm. This is the case within the ‘smart cities discourse’ (Hajer 2014) and even the discourse around so called sustainable development goals is strongly influenced by this. While the first shows a strong belief in technology as a one-­‐best-­‐way-­‐strategy to solve urban problems and to gain sustainability the second has recently been criticized as a form of ‘cockpit-­‐ism’ (Hajer et al. 2015) that searches the solutions in top-­‐down governance strategies.

Against this background the emerging debate on the ‘energetic city’ breaks ground for a policy perspective beyond hegemonial top-­‐down strategies. It has been said that along with smart technologies it needs ‘smart governance’, too. Following Dryzek’s ideas of deliberative practice, what is needed instead of a technocentric top-­‐down power strategy is generating intersections and links between the everyday life of people/citizens and those policy discourses that guarantee high levels of reflexivity, interdisciplinarity and democracy in planning and policy-­‐making.

It is a too often neglected dimension in contemporary urban politics and  planning that sustainable mobility needs the mobilities of ideas and concepts and the reflexivity of policies. ‘Default urbanization’ (Hajer 2014) is still applying the strategies of first modernity by believing in increasing capacities and optimizing the systems and concepts of the industrial age. In second modernity, the ‘mobile risk society’ (Kesselring 2008), those concepts will be replaced by a post-­‐ technocentric and reflexive practice in urban planning. This new emerging practice (smart urbanism) re-­‐connects urban life spheres to the systemic worlds of regulation and governance through new intersections, intermediate arenas, and emerging new forms of knowledge transfer. A new trans-­‐diciplinary and trans-­‐sectoral language of exchange and interconnectedness is arising from these changing interaction and collaboration cultures.

Planning theory and the ‘argumentative turn’ in policy analysis (Fischer & Forrester 1993, Fischer & Gottweis 2013), in particular, have given significant attention to these shifts in societies’ discursive patterns and structures. They hope for post-­‐disciplinary ideas and a new level of reflexivity on how to make cities liveable places and environments of justice, equality and free access to common goods.

This calls for a subject-­‐oriented approach in urban planning and design that considers sustainability and socially cohesive cities as essential, not as ‘nice-­‐to-­‐ have’ features of a utopian post-­‐materialist world. Rather they are ‘must-­‐haves’, fundamental for mastering the challenges of the mobile risk society. For making up powerful and strong visions and policies for sustainable cities ‘ collaborative storytelling’ plays a key role. As planning theorists James Throgmorten (1996) and Leonie Sandercock (2003) put it stories have a fundamental ‘persuasive character’ when it comes to making decisions on the future of cities. In a subject-­‐ oriented planning approach stories about the desirable city and its mobilities can put the human being and its social relations centre-­‐stage. Storytelling and planning through discourse and the intersection of people, ideas, concepts, perceptions etc. are key elements of a the reflexive philosopy of science and practice (Evers & Nowotny 1996; Nowotny, Scott, Gibbons 2004; Bonß 1982, 1995).

Reflexive modernization In his 1993 book ‘The reinvention of politics’ sociologist Ulrich Beck refers to Wassily Kandinsky’s article with the odd title ‘and’. In this article Kandinsky asks what is the word that characterizes the 20th century compared to the 19th century. His answer: throughout the 19th century the ‘either-­‐or’ predominated while the 20th century should be dedicated to the work on the ‘and’. And then Beck writes:
‘There: separation, specialization, the endeavour for unambiguity, predictability of the world – here: juxtaposition, multiplicity, uncertainty, the question of how things relate to each other, cohesion, the experiment of exchange, of the excluded third, synthesis, ambivalence.’ (Beck 1993, 9)

This thought of 20th century artist Kandinsky finally inspired Beck for his social theory of the risk society theory that turned later, together with Giddens and Lash, into the theory of reflexive modernization.

Today, notions such as ambivalence, risk, uncertainty and insecurity help to understand the mobile risk society. As planning in general, planning for the future of mobilities has become a ‘messy business’ (Fischer and Forester 1993). For Bauman (2000) modern institutions are ‘walking on quicksand’. Increasing social, political and economic risks and mobilities are shaping the institutional and societal environment for policy-­‐makers, planners and decision-­‐makers of all kind. Finding consensus and generating lasting and reliable decisions has become the major problem for democracies and their institutions. The world of today has grown into a ‘mobile risk society’ of increasingly dystopian and

disastrous character (Beck & Kesselring 1998; Beck, Hajer, Kesselring 1999; Kesselring 2008; Urry 2011; 2014; Sheller 2014). The management of ‘diverse mobilities’ (Urry 2000) has become the proof case for the capacities of modern societies to survive and sustain a modern way of life. The search for methodologies and methods able to deal with reflexivities, ambivalence and uncertainty has become an important task not only for planning theory but rather for contemporary science (Forester 1999). As ‘uncertainties, ambiguities, unpredictabilities and unexpected consequences have become the defining features of our increasingly turbulent times’ (Fischer and Gottweis 2012: 4), there is an urgent need for new methodologies to guide decision-­‐making about the future and to improve the conditions for a ‘good mobile life’ in cities and regions.

Intersections In modern societies the ‘will to order’ (Nietsche) and the ‘will to power’ (Foucault) has been dominating. The role of the experts has been to give direction and to guide the course of modern decision-­‐making and regulation. In the age of second modernity it is much more the problem that politics and planning withdraw from power and reject responsibility. They give up on being the key player in society. Instead they hope for new institutional capacities to show up in society. ‘Governing without government’ (Rohde 1996) seems to be the answer on the complex question of how to deal with increasing uncertainties and insecurities.

In fact the application of governance models also in planning (mobilities) is generating a new institutional and societal pattern of interaction and collaboration. That’s why Healey coined the term ‘collaborative planning’ in the 1990s.

We are picking up these developments and considerations and present some results from a research project called ‘Mobilities Futures & the City’. In this project we explicitly provided a ‘place’, an intersection for reflexivity, for interdisciplinarity and transsectoral exchange between planners, people from industry and commerce, non-­‐profit-­‐organizations, performing artists, musicians, journalists, event designers, product designers etc. The goal was not to reduce complexity but to see how mobilities futures can be socially constructed in a playful atmosphere that has not been dominated by planning experts, engineers and transportation economists -­‐ as it often happens in planning contexts. We aimed for a setting where the power of the ‘technocentric planning paradigm’ (Miciukiewicz & Vigar 2012) could be placed aside with other alternative ways of planning the future of urban mobility, in a methodologically controlled setting.

Based on qualitative empirical work the paper sketches out elements of a reflexive methodology in urban mobilities planning. The authors investigate on how it is possible to facilitate the mobility of concepts, perceptions and ideas from different disciplines and rationalities about the future of urban mobility. It presents experiences on how to allocate appropriate expertise from social science, planning, engineering and the arts. And it explores the potentials of a

post-­‐disciplinary setting of expertise for the development of strong common visions, ideas and concepts for desirable urban mobilities futures.

Data and results from two future workshops in Germany and Denmark will be presented. This exemplifies key aspects of the complex epistemological and methodological questions attached to the research on reflexive mobilities and the future of urban mobile lives. Case studies from the workshops will be elaborated, i.e. from an art project on the ‘Randomized City’ and the ‘Circular City’ concept.


Fischer, Frank, and John Forester. 1993. TheArgumentativeTurninPolicy AnalysisandPlanning. Edited by Frank Fischer and John Forester. Duke University Press Books.

Hajer, Maarten. 2014. On being smart about cities. Seven considerations for a new urban planning and design. In: Hajer, Maarten & Ton Dassen. Smart about Cities. pp. 11-43. PBL publishers.

Sandercock, Leonie. 2003. “Out of the Closet: The Importance of Stories and Storytelling in Planning Practice.” Planning Theory & Practice. doi:10.1080/1464935032000057209.

Throgmorten, James. 1996. Planning as persuasive storytelling. The rhetorical construction of Chicago’s electrical future. University of Chicago Press.


Anne Galloway - Victoria University of Wellington

Do People Dream of Electric Sheep?: Probing futures through speculative design

Product design has a long history of prescriptive tendencies, but more recent explorations in critical design and design fiction have focused on object design’s prospective or speculative potential (Dunne & Raby, 2013; Sterling 2009). Used as a means to engage with the material ethics of new technologies, speculative objects have been referred to as “diagetic prototypes” (cf. Kirby, 2010) or objects that conjure worlds in which they could exist. As such, they provide the opportunity for people to both literally and metaphorically make possible futures in the present, and assess potential paths forward. This paper positions speculative design as a mode of inquiry within the growing sociological fields of “mobile” (Büscher, Urry & Witchger, 2011) and “inventive” (Lury & Wakeford, 2012) methods, and presents three speculative designs based on ethnographic research filtered through Le Guin’s (2004; 2009) and Atwood’s (2011) observations on fantasy and science fiction. The designs—part of a larger investigation into how New Zealand Merino sheep production and consumption might be reconfigured within an Internet of Things— are considered in terms of how they reflect actual concerns, and imagine issues, around emerging technologies. The capacity of speculative design to serve as a research method is assessed using Büscher et al.’s (2011) concepts of “moving along” with publics, “moving in” with prototypes, and “being moved by” things that happen along the way (p. 121-122). Of particular interest is how such “difficult objects” (cf. Michael, 2008) both support and resist researcher intention, and audience reception.

Atwood, M. (2011). In Other Worlds: SF and the human imagination. London: Hachette Digital.
Büscher, M., Urry, J. & Witchger, K. (eds.) (2011). Mobile Methods. London: Routledge.

Büscher, M., Coulton, P., Hemment, D. & Holst Mogensen, P. (2011). Mobile, experimental, public. In Büscher, M. Urry, J. & Witchger, K. (eds.) Mobile Methods (pp. 119-137). London: Routledge.
Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative Everything: Design, fiction, and social dreaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kirby, D. (2010).  Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, scientists, and cinema. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Le Guin, U. K. (2009). Cheek by Jowl: Talks and essays on how and why fantasy matters. Seattle, WA: Aqueduct Press.
LeGuin, U. K. (2004). The Wave of the Mind: Talks and essays on the writer, the reader, and the imagination. Boston, MA: Shambala Publications.
Lury, C. & Wakeford, N. (2012). Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge.


Tom Hall and Robin Smith - Pedestrian Mobilities

Our paper reports on some of the directions in which we have found ourselves writing and thinking in relation to research undertaken with people on the move in the middle of the city of Cardiff, and builds on this to make suggestions, challenges and priorities  for future mobilities research.
The people we have been writing and thinking about, and moving around with, in Cardiff, fall into two distinct groups or categories. The first are a team of outreach workers, street-level bureaucrats employed by Cardiff council; these are social work and care professionals, tasked to make and maintain (therapeutic) contact with a ‘hard to reach’ client group. The second group – better a category, variously grouped and subdivided – are those hard to reach clients themselves, most of whom are homeless and sleeping rough on Cardiff’s streets, or very close to being and doing so. The research has been ethnographic in method and approach, best described as ‘fieldwork’ in the classic anthropological sense: ‘first hand intensive observation or participant observation’. In our case this has involved a field engagement we have shared, and shared out, between the two of us, combining periods of intense involvement – a nine month sabbatical/secondment, a two-year, full time research project – with ongoing observation kept up week by week alongside other commitments. In total we have logged several years and – crucially – several hundred miles, none of this anywhere other than in the centre of Cardiff, a local territory criss-crossed by outreach workers and the city’s homeless day after day, mostly on foot. So a very local, and pedestrian undertaking essentially.

On the Run
It will help to set out in (some) detail what it is we mean by outreach work and the needs to which such work is addressed. It would also be appropriate to hear directly from some of those with whom we have spent time, among them one or two key informants. So we begin in medias res, with some voices from the field. Three short excerpts, in the first of which there are two speakers: Colin and John. Colin is a member of staff at an emergency accommodation project five minutes’ walk from Cardiff’s central train station. John, the second speaker, is a long-time resident at the same project, previously a rough sleeper and a well-established figure on Cardiff’s homeless scene. We are gathered together (Colin, John and on this occasion Tom) in the staff office at the back of the accommodation project, along the corridor from the kitchen; it is half past nine in the morning:

Colin: It’s like they’re invisible. And that’s what the Run should be about, finding them people … You need to look, that’s what the Breakfast Run is all about. And if it takes three hours then it takes three hours. You need to look down the embankment and down this alley and up the Cathedral. And if no one’s there then OK, and you can look again tomorrow. That’s what it takes … You need to think ‘Where would I sleep if I was homeless?’ There’s all sorts of places.

John: I know Cardiff. Yes I do. I know every street and every garden and every alley.

The Breakfast Run is an early morning patrol of the city centre and its surrounds, conducted daily, in the course of which outreach workers – our key informants among them – distribute goods and services to those they find sleeping rough. For Colin, ‘the Run’ has to be a labour of spatial enquiry or exploration as much as anything else, taking in ‘all sorts of places’. John claims specialist knowledge of just the locations an outreach patrol ought to work its way round to and encompass.
                Half a mile away, here is another key player, Steve Hyde, who speaks as the manager of what was then called Cardiff’s City Centre Team. He is standing at a second floor window overlooking Central Square, a largish plaza in front of Cardiff central train station. Some of the city’s homeless and street drinkers gather here – on Central Square – in twos and threes, throughout the day; some also sleep here, or try to, in ones and twos, at night:     

Steve: If you think about the city centre … there are some people there who are more or less invisible. You see them all the time but you might not notice them. In some ways it’s like they don’t belong. But they do. They do belong there. In fact they’re there all the time, more than anyone … It’s like there’s two city centres really. Only one of them is hidden away a bit. And there’s not many of them. Cardiff is a big place, but what we’re dealing with basically is a village, if you take away all those other people.

Steve is referring of course to the street homeless, the hard to reach client group that his team is supposed to help and house, if they can. His team’s clients are right there on Central Square, some of them at least, variously grouped together, sat or slumped. Others are not to hand; they will be somewhere else nearby, who knows exactly where or for how long; they may show up later (by which time those now present may be gone, having moved on, or been moved on or chased off). Even those he can locate for now – sat on the bench, stood by the public toilets – are in other ways hard to see, deliberately ignored by those passing by; they are ‘more or less invisible’.. 
                Finally, here are two outreach workers, Dennis and Rachel, working the late shift, sat together in a van parked up by a 24 hour storage facility alongside the river Taff, which runs through Cardiff on its way to the docks and Cardiff Bay. They are half a mile from Central Square. It is dark and Dennis has just climbed back in to the passenger seat having been for a look around, on foot, along the embankment, just to see who might be there – a ‘nosey’. He is teasing Rachel who has been on a training course all afternoon and is not properly dressed for outreach:

Dennis: Next stop, get out there and do some outreach.
Rachel: In these shoes? I don’t think so.

Rachel is wearing office shoes, with a heel; Dennis is wearing work boots with a reinforced toe cap, also hardwearing trousers reinforced at the knees and bulky tough fleece (navy blue so as not to show the dirt); he is carrying a torch and a holstered walkie-talkie, also a notebook and pen and pocket knife. Slips and scrapes are an occupational hazard, for outreach workers, a modest share of the niggling damage the city doles out to the homeless. You can’t do it in a skirt and heels, hence Rachel’s comic response, workplace humour.
What is being talked about, joked about, but isn’t quite happening in each of these excerpts – what has just finished happening, or needs to happen, or is about to happen – is the practice at issue and of interest to us: outreach. It is a practice which involves an extension of the self and of services, a reaching out into the city; Michael Rowe has described outreach work with the homeless as a practice that takes workers to the very edge of social responsibility. It may do just that, at times and in a manner of speaking. But it also takes workers over, under, through and around a concrete environment, variously cluttered; a physical space of operations which outreach workers have to know at first hand, by having been there and seen for themselves what is going on. Every street and every garden and every alley, as John has it.

A line of work
What was called Cardiff’s City Centre Team back when Steve was its manager, looking out across Central Square, is still in existence today, though its outreach workers are now line managed through Housing and Neighbourhood Renewal (HANR). The outreach team, four individuals, are known as HANR outreach. They combine with others on the City Centre Team to supply services, care and support to vulnerable adults in the city centre, specifically those who have gone public with their needs or difficulties and are exposed as such, to further risk or injury but also to view. The team’s principal clients are homeless or have been or are about to be so, and as such are ‘out’ in the middle of the city – sleeping rough, or resident somewhere overnight but at large throughout the day, or reliant in some or other way on the relative anonymity of the city centre and public space (as somewhere to pitch up and ask for money, or sit and drink, or sell sex, or score drugs … ). We have already described these clients as hard to reach, and one of the things this turn of phrase is supposed to convey is social and behavioural: these are not people who uncomplicatedly present themselves, as clients, to the various agencies to which they might be expected to turn for help: housing advice, accident and emergency, counselling, social services. They are averse, some of them, to dealings with health and welfare bureaucracies. Not that they don’t need such services: their need is acute in some cases and visible (homeless alcoholics clearly need housing; although there is a good deal more to say about why they might not want it on the terms most frequently offered). The City Centre Team and its HANR outreach workers aim to make good on this need, where they can. They do so as a multi-disciplinary assortment of just over a dozen health, social care and social service professionals, fed clients by the efforts of the HANR outreach workers in particular whose job it is to scour the city day and night for vulnerable adults in seeming need who can be helped (perhaps, a little) in situ but also over time, if a trusting relationship between outreach worker and client can be established, brought ‘in’ to contact with specialist and mainstream health and social care services. Outreach then is a job which means moving around the city, not between appointments or on the way to anywhere in particular so much as covering ground to see who might be out there; a sort of streetcombing. Mobility is therefore central to outreach practice, is outreach work being done. Outreach workers spend a good part of every shift they work moving around the city on the lookout for existing and potential clients. They do other things as well – administering assistance, making referrals, attending meetings, taking phone calls – but if asked to show anyone the work that they do they would always begin by taking an interested party ‘out’ on patrol: ‘… get out there and do some outreach’, as Dennis has it.
                Mobility is essential then, to outreach workers of the sort we have spent time with, and is coupled with the upkeep and development of a specialist knowledge of the city centre that is central to outreach practice. Every working day begins with the Breakfast Run, an exploratory circuit of the city centre with a flask of hot tea, every afternoon shift ends with another patrol, two to three hours spent circulating the centre; some evenings the team is out late, supporting a sister service that targets sex workers (many of whom are already known to the HANR team as homeless). None of these patrols goes anywhere outside a square mile or so of space either side of Central Square. To map the movements of outreach workers on patrol in Cardiff is to thickly score the same page with line upon line up and down the same streets and in and out of the same settings and locales. Repetitive? Only in a very narrow sense. Redundant? Not at all. Each day sets HANR outreach workers the same (new) challenge in the same (old) spaces: where is everyone? This question is asked, again and again. There are three reasons why. Firstly, existing clients are hard to reach: not only evasive and alienated in their dealings with authority and welfare bureaucracy, but spatially evasive and alienated. Last seen on Central Square at ten o’clock at night they could be anywhere by half past six in the morning. Secondly, their lives are typically chaotic and/or characterised by a sort of drifting disposition. Anything could have happened to them since you saw them at midday in the park. The frailty of some clients and their vulnerability to even minor events – setbacks, injuries, mix ups, drama – necessitates a recurrent checking-up to see how things now stand, to make sure everyone is at least ‘OK’. Thirdly anyone could be out there. New clients, or clients-in-the-making emerge every day, or may do, and the City Centre Team and the many other local services it works together with might never know – these people being hard to reach – if HANR outreach were not out there searching, streetcombing.
                This is the context, pursued ethnographically and sketched here (ever so thinly), from which we have been writing and thinking: moving, searching, streetcombing. 

Pedestrian mobilities: shared ground and moving on
Given this context – which we can now, we hope, be excused from rehearsing out loud – we are able to point to some of the ways in which we feel such an engagement with everyday street-level pedestrian mobilities might prepare the way for, and constitute, a significant and original contribution to the sociology of the organisation and production of urban public space and, more specifically, the politics of urban care and repair. Here we are particularly concerned to consider the ways in which the pedestrian mobilities we have charted and shared are rhythmic and as such productive rather than simply reflective, of the contours of public space (providing as such a necessary corrective to static conceptualisations of urban space and everyday life)
An examination of mobile practices in public space is, we argue, an examination of the practices in and through which such space is produced. We thus consider mobility as a ‘production order’. This is to say that mobility does not simply emerge from, characterize or connect given social conditions, experiences or settings or scales of socio-spatial organisation, but produces meaning, relations and emergent conditions of action and organisation. We pursue this line of argument – mobility as a production order – in relation to three themes, as follows: 1) footwork, knowledge and place; 2) need, care and repair; 3) and territorial production(s). We do so through discussion of our empirical case in which these themes feature as central concerns both in our recent and anticipated contributions to mobilities scholarship.                                                                                                                        Like (all) other contributors to this workshop, we take mobilities seriously, as an object of inquiry, sui generis. As such we do not see the future of mobilities research in relation to cities and urban sociology as simply offering a ‘mobilities perspective’ on urban life. Rather, we see that future in terms of the demonstration and description, empirically and theoretically, of the centrality of mobilities to the organisation of the urban experience. Far from trivial, we suggest that local, pedestrian mobilities can be the very stuff of the production and social organisation of urban space, and as such offer grounds from which to argue with and against versions of the ‘good’, the ‘safe’ the ‘vibrant’ city. The corollary to this suggestion is that (local, situated, observational) ethnography, possibly seen to be at a point of crisis faced with the task of keeping up with contemporary flows and networks, has a continued significant role to play in the study of social life.


Ole B. Jensen, Aalborg University - of 'Other' Materialities

full paper

As argued elsewhere the study of contemporary mobilities may profit from focusing at the concrete level of the situation as well as there is much to be gained from looking towards the nexus between design and mobilities (Jensen 2013; 2014). The pragmatic question ‘what makes this specific mobile situation possible?’ suggests that the materiality of mobile situations should be explored in more detail. In this paper I propose such a new ‘material turn’ to go via the notion of ‘affordance’ as it initially was coined by environmental psychologist James Gibson (1986) and later developed further to include assemblages of technology, mobile and sensing bodies and material spaces as affordances for material practice (e.g. Degen et al 2010; Heft 1998, 2010; Kimbell 2011, 2012; Latour 2008; Latour & Yanvea 2008; Yaneva 2009). The turn to mobilities design and affordances represents a ‘new’ material turn in mobilities research since the very conception of mobilities could be understood as a turn towards materiality in the first place (e.g. Jensen forthcoming; Urry 2000). In this paper I present the notion of ‘mobility affordance’ (Jensen 2013:120) as a way of foregrounding the multiple layers of socio-technical systems, complex infrastructures, and mobile subjects in a research agenda focusing on how mobilities is performed and how it is a multi-sensorial phenomenon. This has certain affinities to so-called ‘non-representational’ strands of thinking (e.g. Andersson & Harrison 2010; Bogost 2012; Thrift 2008; Vannini 2012). The paper uses mobilites design as a field of research and inquiry to illustrate why future mobilties research should pay close attention to design, embodiment and affordances. This leads us to design as a way of thinking about interventions in the world as well as about creative acts of ‘world making’ (Ingold 2011). Needless to say this also necessitates an analysis of the ‘politics of design’ as mobility, design, and power will be brought together in new ways. The touch point for all this is the specific mobile situation or ‘mobilities in situ’ and how such material practices are created by means of design, policy and regulation as well as on mobile subjects’ multiple choices and decisions. The framework of ‘staging mobilites’ (Jensen 2013) explores mobile situations as they are spanned out between the three analytical spheres of materiality, sociality, and embodiment. In this paper I point toward a new material turn for the future of mobilities research as one that put focus on design, multi-sensorial embodiments, and affordances.

Judith A. Nicholson - “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”: Mediating Racialized Mobilities via Gun-Camera Articulations

The gun is an important cultural object used widely by police, soldiers, hunters, gangs, and common people. Guns are not discussed in Mobilities Studies despite numerous pre-digital articulations (pre-1990s) with cameras in Visual Studies scholarship which, typically, focuses on how gun and camera each function as a prosthetic extension of the finger in the act of pointing and as a telescopic extension of the eye in the act of shooting (see Berger 1980; Sontag 1977; Virilio 1989). Notably, also, the nineteenth-century pocket camera and the handgun “evolved in lockstep” through similar mechanisms, body designs, and flammable compounds and, as consumer goods, both were used to mediate social mobility (Landau 2002).

Recently in the U.S., attention has focussed on the polysemy of guns following fatal police shootings of predominantly African American men, women, and children who were ambulatory while wielding devices mistaken for a gun, including a cellphone, remote control, spatula, wallet, candy bar, bottle of pills, and set of keys. In light of these fatal interactions, demands have grown for police to wear body cameras. Such demands are occurring at a moment when guns and cameras are increasingly articulated with digitization in camera-mounted guns for gaming, policing, hunting, and children’s toys, with the latter including a camera-mounted Nerf gun from Hasbro, which shoots foam ammunition and digital video. In the pre-digital era, triggering a camera to shoot an image, like triggering a gun to shoot a person, marked a before and after that could not be undone. Digital-era articulations of guns and cameras allow the doubled moment of pointing and shooting to be recorded, replayed, and remixed.

This paper aims to make a contribution to Future Agendas by regarding contemporary gun-camera articulations as new mobile media and interpreting, in particular, how police might use such articulations in the future to mediate race. This paper proceeds first through considering how past articulations of gun and camera, for example in lynching spectacles (Apel 2004), and historical anxieties about links between crime and the mobility of racialized bodies, exemplified by the 1991 police assault of Rodney King, create a complex “pre-history” for the seeming inevitability of gun-camera articulations in contemporary policing. Ultimately, the contribution of this paper is its exploration of how the future of research on mobilities, race, and new mobile media might draw theories, methodologies, and inspiration from selected key texts in critical race scholarship (for example see Du Bois 1903: Gilroy 2010; Hall et al. 1978).

Works Cited
Apel, Dora. Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Berger, John. 1980. About Looking. New York: Pantheon.
Du Bois, William E.B. 1903. The Souls of Black Folks. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co.
Gilroy, Paul. 2010. Darker than Blue: On the Moral Economies of the Black Atlantic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hall, Stuart, et al. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. London: Macmillan.
Landau, Paul. S. 2002. Empires of the Visual: Photography and Colonial Administration in Africa. In Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (pp. 141-171). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Sontag, Susan. 1977. On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Virilio, Paul. 1989. War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception. Trans. Patrick Cammiler. London: Verso.

Laurence Parent - The wheeling interview: Mobile methods and disability - abstract

Johan Schot - Concaptualizing the Active Role of Users in Shaping Transitions

How to move away from unsustainable patterns of consumption is a key issue in sustainability transitions. Fundamental shifts are necessary in how people move, eat, live communicate and use energy. It would be difficult to realize these shifts without an active role of end-users. This paper focuses on the various active roles users can play in sustainability transitions. Extended abstract

Mimi Sheller and John Urry - The New Mobilities Paradigm Ten Years On - full document

Bronislaw Szerszynski - Planetary mobilities

In the idea of the ‘technosphere’ Peter Haff has made a bold new contribution to the idea, developed by Vladimir Vernadsky and others, of considering technology as an emergent part of the Earth system and its evolving, solar-powered methods of transporting and transforming materials across and through the Earth.  Haff’s particular contributions have been (i) to think through more systematically the idea of technology as an autonomous realm driven by its own logic, and (ii) the similarities and differences between the technosphere and the earlier ‘geological paradigms’ (e.g. lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere) on which it supervenes.

In this paper I will explore what this way of thinking might mean for the mobilities paradigm.  What would it mean to think of the mobility of peoples, things and information as a planetary phenomenon – as radically conditioned by the long, emergent process of the self-organisation of matter over the 4.5 billion-year lifetime of the Earth?

Drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze, Manuel Delanda and others, and referencing recent theoretical developments in biosemiotics and speculative realism, I approach the Earth as a body which has evolved in an ongoing dialectic between the intensive (differences and gradients) and the extensive (form and structure), through a cascade of symmetry-breaking events, driven through processes of self-organised criticality and increasing semiotic freedom, and resulting in a body which is topologically complex in its nestings of spatialities and temporalities, and which has developed progressively complex forms of ‘openness’.  I look at how this long process of emergence has produced different forms of motion of substances and forms within and between the various parts of the Earth, and explore how the mobilities of living things, societies and artefacts are conditioned by the particular contingent history of the development of planetary mobilities within the Earth, yet also extend the Earth’s capacities in new ways.  I will propose that a ‘planetarisation’ of mobilities theory would suggest new questions about the significance of different kinds of motion in the long-term history of planetary being.


David Tyfield†*, Anders Blok‡* and Ulrich Beck*- Doing Methodological Cosmopolitanism in a Mobile World

* ERC Cosmo-Climate Project, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
† Centre for Mobilities Research and Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
‡ Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

How to study a world ‘on the move’? In mobile methods, mobilities research has developed one set of answers to this key question.  What happens, however, when we shift our focus from ‘on the move’ to the ‘world’?  Increasing global interconnectedness also constitutes a fundamental challenge to the prevailing theoretical and methodological orthodoxies of the social sciences.  These remain wedded to a ‘methodological nationalism’ bound up with the presupposition that the nation-state and national society constitute the ‘natural’ socio-political form of the modern world. Methodological nationalism is built into all the basic concepts of modern sociology and political science, as well as into routines of data collection and analysis. As such, it determines what becomes visible and what remains invisible.  Conversely, seeing, understanding and being able to intervene productively in the complex cosmopolitized and mobile realities of socio-technical-natural life, and associated grave global challenges, demands a paradigm shift in the social sciences, which we call a ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’.  Such a diagnosis of the contemporary social sciences in fact resonates strongly with similar arguments that have been developed within the parallel field of mobilities research.  But translating these theoretical arguments into insights about concrete ‘cosmopolitan’ research processes remains very much a work in progress.
We describe the methodological insights and challenges encountered in one ongoing attempt.  This is an ERC project that is exploring and developing methodological cosmopolitanism by investigating how ‘real existing’ cosmopolitanism is being forged in trans-European-East Asian responses to arguably the global risk of global climate change.  More specifically, we reflect on work within this project exploring cosmopolitized forms of ‘low-carbon’ innovation, specifically regarding cities and urban mobility.  What do specifically ‘cosmopolitan’ data and methods look like in this instance? What are the distinctive qualities of ‘cosmopolitan’ data and methods? We argue that while developing new specific forms of cosmopolitan data, and hence cosmopolitan visibility, are crucial elements of this new cosmopolitan social science, reframing this question in the light of the relational ontology to which mobilities and cosmopolitan research both adhere suggests a broader shift of emphasis: regarding ‘methods’ to their formulation as ‘interventions’, and regarding ‘data’ to the construction of new and promising ‘connections’.  From this perspective we then explore the mutual points of contact and learning between cosmopolitan and mobilities research.

Xu Honggang, Wu Yuefang - Lifestyle mobility in China: context, perspective and prospect

The School of Tourism Management
Sun Yat-sen University Contact:
Extended abstract

This study attempts to understand individual mobility and the modernity in current China through analyzing two types of lifestyle mobilities observed to be rising recently. The examination of the social phenomenon from the mobility perspective would help to understand Chinese context and the complex interaction between individuals and their social and natural environment. Through analyzing the individual mobility, it is possible to present a dynamic and livable picture of linkage of individuals, with local communities, regions, state and the global (Sheller and Urry, 2006; Cresswell, 2011). It is also expected to provide some insights on discussions of the mobility turn in recent academic world.


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