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Rail Networks, Mobility, and the Cultures of Cities

Introduction to the Special Section

Steven D. Spalding

Scholars writing about railway mobility have pointed to the rails' impact on the culture of cities, while urban theorists and critics have cited the crucial importance of movement and mobility to how cities are lived. A truly interdisciplinary approach, which balances the priorities of mobility studies and urban studies, and informs itself through compelling cultural artifacts (including visual, literary, or other media) offers insight into the processes of urban cultural production and their close link to the discursive valences of urban rail mobility.

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Kyle Shelton

What good are mobility scholars? And what does our scholarship—be it rooted in history, geography, sociology, anthropology, or any other discipline—provide the world outside academia? Those are questions I have been pondering for the last year, ever since Gijs Mom and Peter Merriman engaged in a stimulating polemic in the pages of Yearbook Six. Must we move beyond our academic silos, as Mom suggested, and peek (if not step boldly) into interdisciplinary work and even policy? Can the scholar be a planner or policy maker? Can the historian offer insights on the future of mobility? And what of our subjects? Should our gaze be turned to the international? The comparative? Or, as Merriman argued, should we polish well-trod national mobilities in ways that allow new subjects, local particularities, and actors to shine through?

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Kyle Shelton

This is the eighth issue of Mobility in History. It is also the last issue that will appear as a stand-alone journal. While no new versions of the publication will be created in the existing mold, the publication and the types of work it has published over nearly a decade of production are far from disappearing. Elements of the Yearbook will become an essential part of T2M’s website, providing a key interface between the organization, its members, and the public. Further, with a strong stable of publications in operation, some articles traditionally found in Mobility in History may have landing spots in Transfers and The Journal of Transport History. Finally, back issues of Mobility in History will remain accessible to members in perpetuity, providing a meaningful archive of work.

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Student Mobility and Internationalisation

Rationales, Rhetoric and 'Institutional Isomorphism'

Vered Amit

Drawing on interviews with Canadian and Australian officials, this article examines the frame of student mobility within the broad discourse of internationalisation. Difficulties in definition and admitted shortfalls in achieving progress even on the more easily articulated benchmarks of student mobility, do not seem to staunch the enthusiasm of a variety of officials for the idea of internationalisation. This article will examine some of the contradictions framing these institutional discourses of internationalisation. These include the gaps between institutional claims and their substantiation, between lauding the internationalism inculcated by student mobility programmes and the more mixed motivations or engagements of student clients, and between claims for the entrepreneurial potential of internationalisation as against the uncertainty of its outcomes. I argue that a long-standing Western view of travel as a vehicle for self-cultivation and transformation combined with competitive efforts to keep up with perceived trends in the fields of post-secondary education are producing a momentum that is elusive even as it threatens to bulldoze its way across important institutional practices and procedures.

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Vistas of Future New Mobility Studies

Transfers and Transformations

Georgine Clarsen

With our eighth volume of this journal, the Transfers editorial team celebrates our achievements under our outgoing editor, Gijs Mom. This article outlines our priorities under our new editor, Dagmar Schäfer, and reaffirms our commitment to the burgeoning field of new mobility studies. The presentations by Mimi Sheller and Peter Merriman, fellow members of the editorial team, at our journal’s panel at the recent T2M conference, “Vistas of Future Mobility Studies: Transfers and Transformations” is summed up for the convenience of those who were not able to attend. This journal will continue to encourage and publish work that places mobilities at the center of our scholarship, with special emphasis on the humanities. Our commitment is to good, innovative, activist scholarship that can help us move toward alternative mobility futures.

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Judith A. Nicholson and Mimi Sheller

Race matters. “Too often scholars discuss mobility in the abstract, assuming or omitting the highly consequential matter of the identity of those who move and its effects on how they move.” This special issue on Mobility and Race has invited contributors to rethink how unequal relations of power inherent in both mobility and race shape a racialized mobility politics. Th e articles that follow examine what Cotten Seiler has called the “racialization of mobility,”2 meaning the ways in which “the modern practices and institutions of mobility have been and remain highly racialized.”

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Mobility and Infrastructure in the Russian Arctic

Das Sein bestimmt das Bewusstsein?

Nikolai Vakhtin

This special issue approaches the interrelated themes of mobility and infrastructure in the Russian Arctic. I will discuss the general topics covered in this set of articles and how these contributions help us understand the lives of people in northern Siberia today, and I will give some context on how these articles came about in the first place. Does being determine consciousness? Or does consciousness determine being? This special issue looks at the complex interplay between people’s perception of well-being and behavior, and their understanding and discourse around infrastructure. Several case studies examine the tension between perception, mobility, and infrastructure in communities across the Russian Arctic.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Regional integration is generally discussed in terms of supranational political cooperation and the integration of economic markets. Since its inception, this journal has noted that political and academic discussions of regionalism focus more on the integration of territories and markets than on the role that people play in these processes. This issue of Regions & Cohesion directly addresses this by “bringing the people back in.”

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Introduction

Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond

Corina Balaban and Susan Wright

This special issue emerged as a result of Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE), a four-year collaborative research project and training programme for early-stage researchers that investigated the dynamic relationships between universities and knowledge economies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Rim. The project was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and included researchers based at six different universities in five European countries. Mobility was not only a widespread research interest within the UNIKE academic community but also a reality of the project, which was in itself a practical example of mobility in doctoral education, as envisaged by the European Commission. Many questions emerged as to how mobility became so central to the European Union’s policies for higher education, but also as to how the portrayal of mobility on a policy level compared to the actual lived experiences of mobile students and researchers. ‘Mobility’ can refer to many different things: geographical mobility, social mobility, cross-sectoral mobility or intellectual mobility (interdisciplinarity). The academic literature mostly treats them separately, with clusters of studies around each concept. In contrast, this special issue sets out to investigate these different types of mobility collectively, with authors covering several parts or the whole spectrum of mobilities. We believe it is valuable to discuss these four different aspects of mobility together for two reasons. First, they are often mentioned together in higher education policy as ‘desirable’ characteristics of a given education programme. Second, the ideal profile of the new, flexible knowledge worker supposedly combines all these aspects of mobility in one persona. The policy literature produced by influential stakeholders in higher education such as the European Commission and the OECD focuses on how to encourage, foster and support different kinds of mobility, working on the assumption that mobility is inherently good and will benefit countries, higher education systems and individuals. Much of the academic literature has adopted a similar approach, focusing on ways to enable mobility rather than challenge it.

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Editorial

Mobilities Studies, a Transdiciplinary Field

Dagmar Schäfer

The inter- and multidisciplinary field of mobility studies is in full swing: at least seven dedicated journals and several dedicated book series now cover the field, and the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M); Cosmobilities; and related associations and networks are cooperating ever more closely. As mobility studies have gained importance and grown into a field of its own, with its own organizations, other disciplines have become interested in mobilities. While this trend indicates the health and strength of mobility studies per se, it brings with it the obligation to consider new ways to reach out and expand.