In the field of postcolonial literary studies, representations of concrete forms of mobility have not received the critical attention they deserve. This is partly due to the field’s reductive understanding of “mobility” as a synonym for migration. In order to enhance dialogue between postcolonial literary studies and mobilities research, this article focuses on representations of aeromobility in the context of Afroeuropean student mobilities in a set of Francophone African novels from the 1980s to the 2010s. My reading of scenes of aeromobility in the text corpus draws attention to the anxious aspects of the air travel of unaccustomed travelers and African newcomers traveling to the former colonial center, and explores the formal functions of representations of aeromobility in terms of narrative structures and tropes.
Lucy Baker, Paola Castañeda, Matthew Dalstrom, Ankur Datta, Tanja Joelsson, Mario Jordi-Sánchez, Jennifer Lynn Kelly, and Dhan Zunino Singh
Nicholas A. Scott, Assembling Moral Mobilities: Cycling, Cities and the Common Good (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020), 288 pp., 38 illus., $50
John Stehlin, Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: Bicycle Infrastructure and Uneven Development (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 328 pp., 24 photos, 11 maps, 9 tables, $27
Cecilia Vindrola-Padros, Critical Ethnographic Perspectives on Medical Travel (New York: Routledge, 2019), 161 pp., $36.77
Nicola Frost and Tom Selwyn, eds., Travelling Towards Home: Mobilities and Homemaking (New York: Berghahn, 2018), 182 pp., 10 illus., 1 table, $110
Peter Cox, Cycling: A Sociology of Vélomobility (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019), 200 pp., 2 B/W illus., £120.00 (ebook £40.49)
Lesley Murray and Susana Cortés-Morales, Children’s Mobilities: Interdependent, Imagined, Relational (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 307 pp., 10 illus., $89.99
Jocelyne Guilbault and Timothy Rommen, eds., Sounds of Vacation: Political Economies of Caribbean Tourism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 234 pp., $25.95
John Krige, ed., How Knowledge Moves: Writing the Transnational History of Science and Technology (Chicago: Th e University of Chicago Press, 2019), 408 pp., 11 illus., $40
Unscheduled Stops in Tokyo’s Spaces of Flow
Robert J. Simpkins
This article explores how urban space produced by the Japanese railway system is appropriated by people for common use in Tokyo. Drawing from ethnographic research among musicians at a central train station, I explore how individuals enmeshed within the schedules of the commuter network negotiate mobilities that fall outside the purview of railway urbanism. Station tsuro are passageways monitored by rail staff and local authorities, protected by traffic and railway commerce laws, and influenced by competing pressures from the overburdened network and local neighborhoods. Musicians sensitive to these shifting relationships identify leeway within, performing in ways that open tsuro up, producing temporary, finely balanced spaces of encounter and connection. Through these processes, the commuter system creates railspecific forms of human relationships.
Plans, Imaginaries, and the Actual State of Railway Projects in Mongolia
Maria-Katharina Lang and Baatarnaran Tsetsentsolmon
This article focuses on recent railway projects in Selenge and Gobi provinces in Mongolia by addressing railway plans and narratives from a historical perspective. New imaginations and expectations have arisen in connection with planned rail infrastructures such as the “Steppe Road,” which to date only exists on the papers of planners and in the minds of residents. Taking the insight by Morten Axel Pedersen and Mikkel Bunkenborg that roads may act as “technologies of distantiation,” this article further argues that railroads not only connect but also separate, traverse, and disperse. Thus, the critical question remains whether the rail system connects Mongolia or whether is it rather used as a transit zone for outside interests.
Infrastructural Suspension and Phatic Politics in Romania
The political force of infrastructures is often attributed to their functioning as designed, while their political afterlives remain underexplored. In this article, I explore ethnographically the phatic force of ruins of infrastructure, by dwelling on a liminal railroad segment in Romania that remains unrehabilitated many years after its breakdown. Such an open-ended state of suspension allows the isolation of infrastructure’s political and affective dimensions. The Giurgiu-Bucharest railroad met its demise in 2005 in the wake of heavy floods, producing an infrastructural gap that impacts local mobility and unravels the postsocialist social contract. State authorities and citizens engage in tactics of remediation that, while unsuccessful in resuming traffic, maintain a sense of phatic connection that kindles nostalgia for the past and frustrates anticipation of the future. These tactics make the railroad a medium for hope and at the same time a symbol for the absolute impossibility of hope.
The publication timeline of the issues of volume 10 of Transfers has been informed by its own history and our now shared global history. Issue 10.1 commemorated the journal’s 10th anniversary and sought to take stock of the past, point to future avenues, and react to the immediate present. Issue 10.2/3 is a double issue that moves the journal further into a new era. It both reaffirm our commitment to interdisciplinarity, diversity, and cutting-edge theorization and remains faithful to our engagement to question accepted histories, especially in the case of infrastructures, these seemingly perennial elements of our lived environment. Editing this journal remains a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort. As such, this double issue presents a collection of research articles on aeromobility, human-elephant relations, LGBT refugees in Germany, and mobility justice in Australia, followed by a special section on railways in Europe and Asia. In both parts of this issue, the articles weave together acts of authoring and reading mobility, by challenging our understanding of our field’s accepted terms and concepts, developing their semantic richness, and asking of us to fully reflect on their meaning today.
Mapping the Evolution of a New Term in Mobility Studies
Ever since the term “aeromobility” was first used in the early 2000s as a parallel to automobility, it has developed into a multilayered concept and even an individual field of research. Yet, the meanings ascribed to the terms “aeromobility,” “aeromobilities,” or “aeromobile” vary significantly depending on the scale, context, and approach of particular studies and their authors. Using elements of discourse analysis, the article explores these meanings across a wide range of academic publications and identifies four main discourses of aeromobility in mobility studies. These are the mobility-system, the norm, the embodied practice, and the lifestyle discourse. While synthesizing the different discourses, their contributions, biases and possible future routings, the article intends to inspire more abstract thinking about aeromobility and offers several suggestions to open it up as a concept with socio-cultural implications.
Precarious Connections: On the Promise and Menace of Railroad Projects
Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk
This introduction attempts to situate railroads, which have rarely been the object of ethnographic attention, within current debates of anthropology and related disciplines. While mobility is certainly one dimension of human-railroad entanglements, the introduction calls to explore political, social, material, and affective lives of railroads in Europe and Asia as well. Often, connections provided by railroads are precarious at best: enveloped in state and local politics, they appear to some as promise and to others as menace. Planning, construction, decay, and reconstruction constitute the temporal and material life cycle of these infrastructures. Attending to particular ethnographic and historical contexts, the introduction aims to demonstrate how railroads, these potent symbols of modernity, continue to be good to think with.
The version of record is December 2020, though the actual publication date is May/June 2021.
Ernst van der Wal
This article examines how photographic interviews can be used to represent the life stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees. Transnational and cross-border movements have a significant impact on the photographic and narrative self-representation of such refugees. By focusing on the example of a photographic interview project, The Story That Travelled, this article demonstrates how ideas surrounding community, citizenship, and transnational mobility are interpreted and visualized by refugees who have fled their countries of origin because of their sexuality and/or gender. In addition, this article considers how digital technologies impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees and their experience and negotiation of borders.
Deborah Snow Molloy and Robert M. Briwa
Ann Petry, The Street (London: Virago, 2019), 416pp., £9.99 (soft back)
Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway: A True Story (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004), xxi +239 pp. $16.99 (paperback).