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When One Becomes Two

Man–Machine Hybridization in Urban Cyclists with Broken Bikes

Lou Therese Brandner


In the Netherlands, where cycling is part of the “national habitus,” bicycle infrastructure is remarkably similar to car infrastructure. This article explores man–machine hybridization in the context of this spatial environment made for bikes, analyzing it through notions of human/nonhuman hybrids, cyborg bodies, and automobilized persons. The perceptions of urban cyclists who temporarily cannot cycle are explored, based on interviews with bike repair shop customers in Amsterdam. How does a broken bike impact their perception of themselves and the city? Within the sample, cyclists attribute an essential, corporeal value to their vehicles, regarding them as extensions of the body. Cycling is considered the natural way of moving through urban space, associated with freedom and independence; switching to public transportation induces feelings of dependence and handicap.

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Ellen Bal, Hosna J. Shewly, and Runa Laila


Over the last two decades, Bangladesh has experienced a dramatic shift in terms of female rural–urban migration, often referred to as the feminization of migration. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research on young female migrants’ livelihood experiences in Dhaka and Gazipur, this article makes three contributions to the migration and mobilities literature. First, while migration often constitutes an adequate tool for resolving desperation, it may also cause an aspiration-desperation trap. Secondly, the transformative potential of migration and mobility for changing social relations of class and gender is not always as effective as it is argued. Lastly, by focusing on the temporalities of migrants’ circumstances, we argue that migration is a continuous process in which mobility and immobility are deeply entangled.

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Shavagne Scott, Walter Goettlich, Sheila Petty, Wang Yanjun, Chimwemwe Phiri, and Larissa Kopytoff

Julius S. Scott, The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution (New York: Verso Books, 2018), 272 pp. $34.95.

Carl Middleton, Rebecca Elmhirst, and Supang Chantavanich, eds., Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change (New York: Routledge, 2018), 202 pp. $160.00 (hardback).

Cajetan Iheka and Jack Taylor, eds., African Migration Narratives: Politics, Race, and Space (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press/Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2018), 310 pp., ten black and white illustrations. $125.00.

Jie Zhang, Cultural Politics of Railways (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2018, in Chinese), 310 pp., eight illustrations. ¥88.00.

Markku Hokkanen, Medicine, Mobility and the Empire: Nyasaland Networks, 1859–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 288 pp. £80.

Natasha Pairaudeau, Mobile Citizens: French Indians in Indochina, 1858–1954 (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2016), 370 pp., three maps, eighteen illustrations, two tables. £25.

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Desperate Aspirations among Paraguayan Youths

The Renegotiation of Migration and Rural Futures

Corinna Land


This article explores how young Paraguayan migrants, returnees, and not-yet-migrants negotiate contradicting aspirations and desperations that they attach to urban and rural spaces in the present and future. While a protracted crisis of small-scale agriculture in Paraguay increases pressure to migrate, the economic crisis in Argentina challenges the established migration trajectories between rural Paraguay and Buenos Aires. The article shows how young adults continuously weigh up current living conditions and future prospects both “here” and “there” and are torn between leaving, staying, or returning. Based on multi-sited ethnographic field research, it reconstructs the ways in which they navigate between four ambiguous aspirations: security, advancement, belonging, and attachment. Whereas rural out-migration of young people is often interpreted as a yearning for modern city life, the analysis reveals that both rural and urban areas are linked with aspirations as well as desperations.

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Rodanthi Tzanelli

Environmental sustainability and ecological aesthetics experience a turbulent affair when academic language is replaced by an artistic register: can we articulate contemporary crises stemming from uncontrolled mobilities, such as hyper-consumption, hyper-automobilities, and technological pollution, better by replacing sociological analysis with affective poetic language? The following poem (unpublished but belonging to the theme of Altermodernities: A Traveller's Notes, book 1: Anthropocene Entanglements) explores what this transition offers to a “public sociology” of modernity that relays theory to multiple publics in alternative visual and textual styles.

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Stéphanie Ponsavady

This issue of Transfers showcases the first part of a thought-provoking special section edited by Supurna Banerjee (Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata) and Eva Gerharz (Fulda University of Applied Sciences). The collection of articles uses the interrelation between aspiration and desperation as a powerful analytical framework to interrogate the relationships between mobility, immobility, migration, and sedentarization. By confronting these termpairs, they also seek to deconstruct their seemingly antinomic associations. The contributions interrogate them beyond binary opposition and bring to light new connections. The second part of the special section, which will focus on negotiating aspirations in intimate social relations, as well as the response to the project will be published in an upcoming volume of our journal.

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Sarah L. Bell and Simon Cook


In this article, we articulate a distinct conceptual direction at the intersection of health and mobilities scholarship that centers on healthy mobilities. We take inspiration from relational, multiscalar, and more-than-human approaches to foreground an approach that asks what being in everyday healthy motion may entail and whose health is considered. We trace this approach through two brief provocations: exercise and differential mobilities, including the finely tuned movement-repertoires developed by disabled people. These illustrate the value of healthy mobilities, beyond humancentric, cure-oriented approaches to health, to understandings of how health takes shape among diverse living entities in motion. This focus can help foreground the interdependence of human, nonhuman, and planetary health in mobilities.

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Interrogating Aspirations through Migratory Mobilities

Supurna Banerjee and Eva Gerharz

While questions focused around social, economic, and physical movement have long been central to human lives, state policies, and economic regimes, the ‘mobility turn’ in academic scholarship has often seen a straightforward association of mobility as an upward trajectory mitigating socioeconomic inequality, as well as equating physical movement emerging from migration with mobility. Here, however, we argue that the relationship between migration and mobility is hardly so automatic, and needs to be considered in its complexities and contradictions. Rather than uncritically celebrating mobility, we consider it as a lens through which disruptions, inequalities, differential access, and the role of identities can be understood.

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Taryn Tavener-Smith and Tom Rowe

David Mitchell, Slade House (London: Sceptre, 2015), 233 pp. £6.99

Musa Okwonga, In the End, It Was All about Love (London: Rough Trade Books, 2021), 98 pp. £11.99

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Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna


This article uses Carling's aspiration/ability model and the social anchoring concept proposed by Grzymala-Kazlowska to explain the post-deportation experience of Mexicans deported from the United States of America. I analyze how deported people's aspirations are shaped by US migration policies and by their families, as well as by local community obligations. The data comes from seven years of longitudinal research in a rural community in Oaxaca. I conclude that under the immobility regime produced by the US for the deported Mexicans, their aspirations of remigration evolve into desperation. Often unable to remigrate to the US, they are stuck in a limbo of desperation until they refunnel their aspirations and anchor them in Mexico. At the same time, they resynchronize their life courses with other community members.