This current issue marks the tenth anniversary of our journal. The jubilee also coincides and clashes with a critical time for all of us as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. Ten years ago, when Gijs Mom's team launched Transfers, the journal responded to an urgent need to think through and beyond mobilities scholarship. Today, as our mobilities have been upended and disrupted, it is with a renewed sense of urgency that we must assess the field and the impact of Transfers over the past decade. Indeed, many things have changed since the journal's founding.
In this paper I reflect upon my own micro-mobilities and embodied mobile practices living and working under COVID-19 government restrictions in Wales in mid-2020. I use the opportunity to reflect upon the past ten years of Transfers and to think about future research in the field of mobility studies, arguing that an attention to seemingly ordinary embodied movements and mobilities provides one avenue by which mobility scholars could move beyond the mobility/immobility binary and approach mobility as being more than transport, migration, and communication. Mobility is, I suggest, ubiquitous—even during government lockdowns—and I explain how Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of the “molar” and “molecular” can be useful for understanding how some movements become perceptible and others imperceptible, and why scholars frequently draw a clear distinction between mobility and immobility.
A Critical Perspective
Despite how the fields of mobility and disability studies have vastly contributed to our understanding of our lifeworld, the two, however, share asymmetric acknowledgement of each other. Mobility recurs as an aspiration for those with a disability yet disability tends to be ignored or inadequately dealt with in mobility studies. This article seeks to achieve two main objectives: first, to discuss how and what the journal has achieved over the years; and, second, to highlight that the denial of mobility is a negation of what it means to be human. Overall, the article seeks to deploy a critical intervention required for mobility studies to return the gesture to disability studies in equal magnitude. By situating the discussion within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, this article argues that at the interface of mobility and disability lies a politics of possibility for people with disabilities in their struggles for equal access and full citizenship.
A View from the South
In this era of the neo-liberal academy, establishing an academic journal is a labor of love and hope. In this article, I celebrate the dedication and commitment of its many contributors and reflect on the value of the arts and humanities to the mobilities paradigm. I do that from the perspective of a feminist historian from a settler colonial polity in the southern hemisphere, where uneven mobilities and the violence of dispossession continue to shape national life. I consider how a mobilities framework that derived from the northern hemisphere has spoken to the intellectual and political projects that played out in a colonial settler nation in the southern hemisphere.
Mobility Studies and Social Change during a Pandemic
In a brief reflection on the multiple disruptions of mobilities imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this article shows the significance of the scholarship published in Transfers over the last ten years for thinking about the future. Clearly the encounter with a novel and deadly virus—transferred between people, traveling rapidly across geographical regions, crossing over the threshold of our bodies, buildings and borders—has drastically changed many things about us, about cities, about economies, and about the world. An analysis inspired by critical mobility studies highlights the inequities of the mobility disruption, especially in the United States, the importance of histories and representations of mobility for understanding the present situation, and the need for changed choreographies of mobility after the pandemic.
Some Reasons Why Literary Scholars Have Been Slow to Hop on the Mobilities Bus
This article explores three reasons why literary scholars have been slow to engage with both the New Mobilities Paradigm and the New Mobilities Studies promoted by Transfers, namely: (1) the residual conservatism of “English studies”; (2) the sort of textual practice associated with “literary criticism” (where the text remains the primary object of study); and (3), the tension between the humanist and/or “subject-centered” nature of most literary scholarship and the posthumanist approaches of mobilities scholars based in the social sciences and other humanities subjects. However, the close reading of literary and other texts has much to contribute to mobilities studies including insight into the temporalities—both personal and social—that shape our long-term understanding of contemporary events such as the current pandemic.
An Anthropological Perspective
Noel B. Salazar
In this short article, I offer a personal reflection on my own mobilities and how these influenced my academic interest in human movement and brought me in contact with mobility studies and Transfers. On the special occasion of the journal's tenth anniversary, I look back at how the journal has fared. I remind readers of the initial plans and expectations that were expressed by the founding editors, with a focus on issues that are important from an anthropological point of view. I complement this critical and constructive analysis with a brief look into the future. In which direction should Transfers ideally be moving? What are the implications of societal developments such as the ones surrounding the coronavirus pandemic for the journal and its thematic focus?
A Decade of New Mobility Studies through the Lens of Transmodality, Transnationalism, and Transdisciplinarity
Looking back on nine years of Transfers, this essay first analyzes the journal's 141 main articles statistically, investigating whether and how much they represented the editorial team's ambition to develop New Mobility Studies guided by transmodality, transnationalism, and transdisciplinarity, in the process decentering the vehicle, the nation, and even history. Together with its hundreds of Editorials, opinionated Ideas in Motion essays and book, film, and art reviews, the journal was able to carve out a clear trend toward a well-established and solid niche within the general mobility studies field. Embedded in a narrative about the personal scholarly development of its first editor in the midst of the CIVID-19 pandemic, the essay shows how Transfers managed to offer its readers a hybrid mix of a scholarly vista on and over the edge of the field and an artistic, curatorial, and filmic and, in general, aesthetic struggle with mobility.
Almost ten years ago, Gijs Mom invited readers and scholars to hop on the bus to rethink our mobilities with the tools of humanities. This issue marks a change of crew as we transition between two editors. We thank Dagmar Schäfer for her leadership in deepening and challenging our thinking, especially in the areas of mobilities in Asia throughout time. We owe a debt of gratitude to Gina Grzimek, our outgoing editorial assistant, for her work shepherding submissions through their publication and mentoring her successor, Jessica Khan. We now present you an issue born out of our collective work, with the hope that it will take you on a journey both comforting and stimulating. This invitation comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded or suspended our collective mobilities for the foreseeable future. In this context, we want to reaffirm Transfers’s interdisciplinary commitment to explore the ways in which various experiences of mobility have been enabled, shaped, and mediated.
This issue of Transfers features five individual essays critically engaging with the promises promoted alongside new methods and purposes of mobility. Two essays, Martin Emanuel’s “From Victim to Villain: Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980” and Andrew V. Clark and colleagues’ “The Rise and Fall of the Segway: Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation,” circle around a core theme of Transfers with their fresh look at transportation, its vehicles, and its methods; two others, Noah Goodall’s “More Than Trolleys: Plausible, Ethically Ambiguous Scenarios Likely to Be Encountered by Automated Vehicles” and Gal Hertz’s “From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling: Hans Gross, Mobility and Crime around 1900,” look at mobility’s social side. Fascinatingly consistent are the adjectives and adverbs that qualify the promises that are made for these technologies. Segways, for instance, were sustainable, enviro-friendly, shared. Smart, personalized, and robotic are some of the commonly invoked terms in the growing literature on this particular PMD (personal mobility device). Adverbial are the benefits of automated driving too: safe and liberating, both values desired by a nineteenth-century urbanized Austrian society that imagined the city as a space of settled inhabitants free of migrants and hence also free of crimes.