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.
Everyday carry (EDC) is a collection of items carried routinely by people, in pockets, on wrists, or in bags. This initial article on EDC attempts to portray and interpret mobility-related EDC, which mediates between moving persons and their devices or activities. Our discussion begins with a general introduction of EDC, presented as utilities and preparedness accessories, followed by historical and functional expositions of four routinely carried mobility items: home keys, car keys, watches, and smartphones. These four items have been developed at different times and places, thus responding to varying human needs. Then, mobility-related EDC items are interpreted from two perspectives: everyday life, noting their unique use by owners, and mobility, noting the instant access to mobility that they facilitate, thus turning potential mobilities into practiced ones.
Representation, Imagination, and Speculation
Jooyoung Kim, Taehee Kim, Jinhyoung Lee, and Inseop Shin
This think piece approaches urban travel from a mobility humanities perspective, using the example of Seoul, South Korea, a leading metropolis in Asia. The article demonstrates three modes of interpreting urban travel in Seoul: (1) representation by means of mobile video technologies embodying a paradoxical relationship of powers; (2) literary imagination confining a possible mobile community in a restricted region; and (3) philosophical speculation presenting “crossing the Han River” as a spiritual and emotional reproduction of the connection between, and consequential rupture of, heterogeneous territories. The article pays particular attention to the represented, imagined, and speculated dimensions of urban travel, which is understood as a physically practiced and cognitively elaborated production, rather than a predefined movement per se.
Joshua Hotaka Roth
Many Japanese workers in lower-paying positions were drawn to the growing trucking sector in the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by contingency and the thrill of risk and reward, in contrast to the stasis of lifetime employment guarantees emerging in other sectors of the economy. The gamified reward structure in trucking, however, led to a spike in traffic accidents and a backlash against “kamikaze trucks.” Only after regulations and enforcement limited the most dangerous kinds of incentives did meaningful forms of play emerge at work from the bottom up, rather than the stultified forms imposed by businesses from the top down.
How Southern News Websites Facilitate Non-sedentarist Discourses on African Migration
Whereas identities in postmodern societies are increasingly celebrated as mobile and fluid for agents from the Global North, agents from African societies face sedentarizing discourses. Recent research has shown that digital media play an ambivalent role in this process. This article explores the circulation of migration-related news on a Malian-diasporic online news portal during the month of December 2016. It argues that Southern online news and user interactions with them can mobilize African identity constructions in opposition to sedentarist hegemonic discourses in three ways: (1) the traveling of articles across space reconstructs the complexities of Malian mobilities; (2) user profiling and interactions produce non-sedentarist narratives about mobile Malians; and (3) the circulation of specific expressions and content questions fixed connections of identities and territories.
Learning Again to Walk under Rainy Skies
Melissa Harrison, Rain: Four Walks in English Weather (London: Faber & Faber and National Trust, 2016), £12.99
Examining the Infrastructuring Processes in Brussels (1950–2019) through the Lens of Social Imaginaries
This article analyzes the dialectic of fast and slow mobilities as a continuous tension, since the mid-twentieth century, characterized by three evolutions of the functional, phenomenological, and social dimensions of mobility infrastructure and practices in Brussels, Belgium. It is based on the content analysis of diverse “embodiments” of social imaginaries: mobility infrastructures, narratives and sensory-motor behaviors, and images, movies, and photographs. It casts light on the great triple evolution of (1) the scale of the designed city; (2) the limits between spaces devoted to speed, slowness, and overlaps; and (3) the promoted aesthetics in terms of atmospheres and urban experience. These developments strongly relate to the changing meaning of slow and fast mobilities and to a broader change in the societal relationship to space and time.
From a Fragmented to an Integrated Approach in France and Europe (1972–1998)
Most research into road safety in Europe has focused chiefly on public action, without closely examining the role of car manufacturers or their coordination with public initiatives. This article explores how manufacturers transitioned from a fragmented conception of road safety in the 1970s—with vehicles being the responsibility of manufacturers, and prevention and roads that of institutions—to an increasingly integrated approach in the twenty-first century. The study uses industry archives to present manufacturer strategies from 1972 onward, which at first exclusively focused on vehicle safety standards. After 1986, the European Year of Road Safety, manufacturers’ official discourse increasingly stressed user education, as opposed to technical improvements to the product. Th is article will use the French case, as well as a more European approach to the automobile lobby in Brussels, to chart the gradual emergence of an integrated approach to safety combining the vehicle, infrastructure, and user behavior.
Art-Science Dialogues and a Techno-Saga
Linda Chiu-han Lai
Why are art-science dialogues important, and how should they take place? How do our everyday culture and institutional constructs define and delimit such possibilities? Why do contemporary art lovers still presume they are immune to and from scientific knowledge? How should a visitor of a media art event make sense of the machine work? Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space & Time (AA) directed these questions to technical experts, artists, art lovers, and the public through a series of themed discussions and a six-hundred-square-meter indoor playground of machines and computational installations. AA also sought to key in on the question of survival. What mark has the struggling existence of the twenty-year-old School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong left to Hong Kong’s (media) art history? The school remains the only pedagogic research center in Hong Kong where conceptual issues of new media art creation and how to “live” in an age of big data are interrogated through scholarship and practice.