John Urry Lecture Update – Special Issue now published


Pegboard map with connecting strings

A landmark publication connected with a key annual event for ISF has recently been published.

One of the major events in the ISF calendar is the Annual John Urry Lecture. Organized in memory of Professor John Urry, whose seminal work was foundational for ISF, as well as the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) and the Sociology Department with which the event is co-hosted, this annual public lecture brings some of the most important social thinkers in the world to Lancaster. 

On 29th October 2020, with Covid-19 restrictions on movement and public gatherings still in force, the event went online to discuss precisely that most pressing of issues in an online panel on ‘Covid, mobilities and futures’. The event brought together three of the most important theorists of the ‘mobilities’ paradigm initiated by John and colleagues, namely Professor Mimi Sheller (Drexel University), Professor Tim Creswell (Edinburgh University) and Professor Noel Salazar (KU Leuven). In front of an international audience of several hundred, the panel discussed a very broad range of issues raised by the pandemic, regarding its effects, the major but uncertain changes it has set in motion, and the deep inequalities it has brought graphically to light. Particularly noticeable themes that arose amongst the panel, both in their own introductory provocations and subsequent Q&A with the audience, included the opportunities and dangers associated with a general devaluing of mobility. Relatedly, the panel reflected on the potential restriction of mobility, and especially for ‘unnecessary’ or ‘leisure’ purposes, to more privileged sections of society, pulling up the ladder just as it was becoming accessible to most people. The entire event can be watched again [here].

Following this fascinating and timely discussion, a Special Issue of the leading journal Mobilities has just been published on ‘Pandemic Im/mobilities’, featuring contributions from all of the panelists, and many other leading mobilities scholars. Articles discuss issues of Covid-19 and its impact on questions of migration, tourism and travel, the future of the city and urban mobilities, new concepts of ‘essential’ as opposed to ‘existential’ mobilities, and the changing valuation of mobility per se. It can be accessed [here].

As a final piece of good news regarding this event, we are also delighted to announce that the 2021 John Urry Lecture will be delivered by Professor Diane Coyle CBE, the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at Cambridge University.  An economist, Diane’s work on complex systems and the economy, and public understanding of economics, has been path-breaking, while also touching on themes of central interest to John. The event will be on Thursday 28th October, and the title of the talk and associated arrangements will be publicized in due course. We look forward to welcoming Diane to Lancaster – hopefully in person – and to hosting you as well for another excellent discussion.

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