Paul Gilroy observed in 2001 that there were “surprisingly few” discussions of automobiles in histories of African American vernacular cultures, in spite of their “epoch-making impact.” He argued that a “ distinctive history of propertylessness and material deprivation” had led to a disproportionate African American investment in automobiles. This article considers how car culture has also operated as a salve for the “indignities of white supremacy” for Indigenous Australians, though on very different terms.
Transfers seeks to broaden the geographical, empirical, and theoretical reach of mobilities scholarship. Our editorial team especially aims to foster innovative research from new locales that moves our field beyond the social sciences where the “new mobilities paradigm” was first articulated. Th is journal is part of a growing intellectual project that brings together theoretical developments and research agendas in the humanities and the social sciences. Our ambition is to bring critical mobilities frameworks into closer conversation with the humanities by encouraging empirical collaborations and conceptual transfers across diverse disciplinary fields. Th e articles presented in this special section forward those aims in several ways.
Since its inception, this journal has been at the leading edge of publishing research that rethinks mobilities from a humanities perspective. We learned much in the process. A plenary panel held at the T2M conference in Drexel University in September 2014 reflected on the experiences of our editorial team and announced our plans to organize our future work through a number of broad portfolios. Each invites/dares our contributors to take our thinking into new territory.
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.
Georgine Clarsen Gijs Mom
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 and Gijs Mom
This is the twelfth issue of Transfers, and perhaps it is time to stop calling it a “new” journal! Our “baby” is growing up, thriving in an expanding landscape of interdisciplinary mobilities research. Transfers is maturing into a robust vehicle for global conversations.
Our rather ambitious mission has been both conceptual and empirical: to “rethink mobilities” and provide publishing opportunities for innovative research. For us, that has been exemplified in our commitment in several areas. Most importantly, we fly the flag for the new theoretical approaches that continue to move the field beyond the social sciences, where the “new mobilities paradigm” was first articulated. We position ourselves as part of a vibrant intellectual project that bridges theoretical developments and research agendas in the humanities and the social sciences.
Georgine Clarsen and Gijs Mom
Gijs Mom, Georgine Clarsen, and Cotten Seiler
At Eindhoven University of Technology, which has a modest reputation for collecting contemporary art, an exhibition of large machines and poetic video clips by father and son Van Bakel invites passersby to reflect on mobility. Gerrit van Bakel, who died more than a quarter century ago, became known for his Tarim Machine, a vehicle that moves at such a low speed that it almost does not matter whether it moves or not. The propulsion principle—for those who love technology—rests on the dilatation energy of oil in tubes propelling (if propelling is the right word …) the contraption a couple of centimeters over a hundred years or so, as long as there is change in temperature to trigger the dilatation. Emphasizing his father’s insights, Michiel van Bakel, exhibits a video clip of a horse and rider galloping over a square in Rotterdam, where the position and camera work are operated so that the horse seems to turn around its axis while the environment rotates at a different tempo. Mobility, these Dutch artists convey, is often not what it seems to be.