The title of this journal, Transfers, merits explication, as it attempts to engage a multitude of scholarly fields, applications, practices and conceptual frameworks. For us, Transfers invokes the movement of people, things, and information through time and space, but it also applies to the transit of concepts between fields of scholarship. The practices of technology transfer are an example of the former, while the latter can be seen at work when the concept of mobility is used to refer to both social (or “vertical”) mobility and physical (or “horizontal”) mobility. Social mobility, for instance, comes into play when the possession of a car leads to higher status, or when the train compartment becomes a medium of social exchange or the display of social hierarchies rather than simply a vehicle of physical transport. Interdisciplinarity, the key scholarly mode of this journal, always involves the movement of ideas across disciplinary borders, unsettling them in (we think) productive ways. Transfers, in other words, connects adjacent fields of scholarship as much as it connects geographical areas between which technologies move. It is crucial to understand that during this process, people, technologies, concepts, and goods in movement are transformed and transform their environments in turn. This is not an automatic or passive process: as people move, people translate.
Georgine Clarsen Gijs Mom
Gijs Mom and Nanny Kim
How topsy-turvy can the world of mobility become? Th e London cab has recently been revived by a Chinese automotive group,1 General Motors had to be rescued by the American taxpayer, and BMW is converting its cars to electricity. In Delhi, after a rape and murder of a woman in a bus, rickshaw pullers introduced “safe for women” rickshaws.2 In Brazil riots against corruption and poverty started in a bus, out of outrage at increased ticket prices.3 In Rio de Janeiro there are three bus accidents per day, in part caused by drivers racing against each other.4 How can we understand the plethora of confusing messages from a world of mobility that seems to spin out of control, more so with every new decade? New Mobility Studies tries to make sense of this turbulence and as editors of Transfers we seek fresh approaches that are not afraid of transgressing boundaries. Th is issue, in which we present scholarship beyond the immediate reach of Western mainstream mobility studies, is an example of such boundary crossing.
Mimi Sheller and Gijs Mom
The name of our journal, Transfers, suggests a wide and even proliferating number of ways of thinking about movement and researching mobilities. What is transferred, how, and between whom? As things “cross over,” how are they changed? And how are contexts changed by that which moves through them? In this issue, we present a series of articles that indirectly take up the concept of transfers in different ways. Transfers, they suggest, might be thought of in terms of circulations, assemblages, entanglements, mobile social practices, networks of movement, moving onward, migrations, and the choreographies of bodies within practices of transport. But it also might be conceived of in terms of more temporal processes: instabilities, transformations, subtly shifting performances, and changing representations. We welcome this wide range of understandings of practice and processes of “transference,” as we might call this kind of conceptual transformation across mobilities. They all share an emphasis on relationality and the ongoing making of meaning.
How important are regional foci in a world that is defined by transfers and mobilities? This issue of Transfers features a special section that addresses this question and provides varied answers on the role regions play in the understanding of modernity, power, and practices of moving. The call for the special section, “Asia on the Move,” went out in spring 2017. Since then, questions of mobilities, migration, and transfers have not only gained increasing attention and importance, they have also been met with resistance by local groups, in politics and social development—often, in the global point of view, from quite unexpected directions, as in the case of Myanmar and Rohinga migration in 2018.
Gijs Mom, Cotten Seiler and Georgine Clarsen
This issue is the last of volume 2. With this, we have reached a milestone in our fledgling history and a threshold to the last volume in our series of three in which we have strived, and still strive, to get all the important elements of a good journal in place. According to our original plans our priorities were to establish top-quality submissions, a splendid pool of knowledgeable and rigorous but generous transdisciplinary referees, efficient refereeing procedures, satisfactory rejection rates, timely manuscript production, and a subscriber base that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Although quantitatively not yet up to standard, our readership is variegated and adventurous enough to appreciate our desire to “rethink mobility” and dedicate printed space to “mobility writ large.” Before we begin to produce volume 3 (2012) this September, our editorial team will retreat, evaluate, and look each other in the eyes to determine what we can do better.
Introduction to the Special Section
M. William Steele
The rickshaw, invented in Japan in 1869, helped to produce a revolution in mobility for millions of people in Asia and Africa. By the 1930s, the everyday mobility offered by the hand-pulled rickshaw gave way to several of its off spring: the cycle-rickshaw, trishaw, pedicab, cyclo, becak, and the auto-rickshaw. The three articles in this special section describe how these “primitive” non-motorized vehicles continue in the twenty-first century to play a valuable and irreplaceable role in urban and rural transport in South Asian cities. The authors are traffic experts, geographers, and urban planners who live and work in contemporary rickshaw cultures. Despite the reality of urban hazards, the articles describe cultural, economic, and environmental reasons to keep rickshaws on the road, now and in the future.
The Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement
Henrik Vigh and Jesper Bjarnesen
Wars unsettle our commonsense understandings of movement and mobility. Simultaneously entropic and inertial, they conjure up images of rampant disorder and chaos as well as strained and crippled formations locked in negative tension. On the one hand, detrimental movement; on the other, deadly stalemate. Both mobility and immobility are, as such, associated with the iconography of warfare and conflicts. They may be presented as out of time through pictures of empty streets, ruins, trenches, and dead bodies frozen in contorted positions, yet, conversely, some of the most archetypical images of war connote speed, flows, and movement, seen in images of troop advances or retreats, rows of traveling refugees, and hauls of humanitarian aid shipped or flown into airports and harbors from afar. In temporal terms, conflict and violence are oft en represented in the lethargy of decay or the entropy of aggression.
Introduction to the Special Section
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
During their transnational circulation, bicycles became glocalized as local users tailored them to fit local laws, customs, user preferences and cultures. Bicycles thus acquired many different local meanings as users incorporated them into daily lifes and practices in diverse global settings. To show the importance of 'normalized use', i.e. rural bicycle use, in which cycling became enduring, sustainable, new, old and new again, we need globally grounded histories of mobility.
Gijs Mom, Georgine Clarsen, Liz Millward, Dorit Müller, Mimi Sheller and Heike Weber
The fluidity of modernity has surely reached the outskirts of the earth when even the new Pope Franciscus admonishes his cardinals that “our life is a journey and when we stop there is something wrong. […] If one does not walk, one gets stuck.” The current economic crisis has enhanced the fear of congestion and the interruption of flows: the circulation of capital in the first instance, but also of people and stuff, and of ideas and knowledge. It is time to rethink mobility.
Vered Amit and Noel Dyck
This special issue reports the findings of a research team of senior anthropologists, Vered Amit and Noel Dyck, and three graduate research assistants, Heather Barnick, Meghan Gilgunn, and Kathleen Rice, collaboratively investigating the workings of policies on the movements of student and youth from Canada. Specifically our focus is on three different types of movement: international student exchanges, working holidays, and international athletic scholarships. While our focus is on movement out of Canada, these are, to say the least, forms of mobility that have their analogues, sometimes on a much larger scale, in many other affluent industrial countries.