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Feeling Motion: Revisiting Mobility History through Affect and Emotion

Mikkel Thelle

The article relates the study of mobility history to the fields of history of emotion and affect theory in the promotion of a cross-disciplinary research agenda. Taking as its point of departure a workshop in Copenhagen on feeling and space, the text draws lines and points of potential interface between historical mobility studies and the two related fields.

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Subversive Mobilities

The Copenhagen Riots, 1900–1919

Mikkel Thelle

The article approaches mobility through a cultural history of urban conflict. Using a case of “The Copenhagen Trouble,“ a series of riots in the Danish capital around 1900, a space of subversive mobilities is delineated. These turn-of-the-century riots points to a new pattern of mobile gathering, the swarm; to a new aspect of public action, the staging; and to new ways of configuring public space. These different components indicate an urban assemblage of subversion, and a new characterization of the “throwntogetherness“ of the modern public.

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Engaged Lingering

Urban Contingency in the Pandemic Present with COVID-19 in Denmark

Mikkel Bille and Mikkel Thelle


This article explores the intensification of contingency in an urban setting during the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Denmark. Based on interviews with fifty-one residents in the two largest cities in Denmark from the very first day of lockdown, it explores how the respondents expressed a friction between adapting to isolation, powerlessness and feelings of being out of time on the one hand, while simultaneously also being confronted with urgency through media and the immediacy of urban encounters on the other. Drawing on the works of François Hartog on presentism and Ben Anderson on terror preparedness, the central argument in this article is that with COVID-19 we see parallel negotiations of unknown futures near and far, in which urban contingency intensifies an already presentist sense of time. As one way of coping with the situation, people are actively lingering in a present without clear connections to past or future, fostering a form of stasis and hesitancy. In what we call an engaged lingering, urgency unfolds in seemingly contradictory ways to become simultaneously an everyday of frantic motion and paralysis.

Cet article explore l'intensification de la contingence dans un cadre urbain pendant la propagation rapide du COVID-19 au Danemark. Basé sur des entretiens avec trente-trois résidents de Copenhague dès le premier jour du confinement au Danemark, il explore comment les répondants ont exprimé une friction entre l'adaptation à l'isolement, l'impuissance et le sentiment d’être hors du temps d'une part, tout en étant simultanément confronté à l'urgence à travers les médias et l'immédiateté des rencontres urbaines d'autre part. S'inspirant des travaux de François Hartog sur le présentisme et de Ben Anderson sur la préparation à la terreur, où “l'ici et maintenant est suspendu entre le présent et un futur ‘comme si’ (2010), l'argument central de cet article est qu'avec COVID-19, nous assistons à des négociations parallèles de futurs inconnus proches et lointains, dans lesquelles la contingence urbaine intensifie un sens déjà présentiste du temps. Pour faire face à cette situation, les gens s'attardent activement dans un présent sans liens clairs avec le passé ou le futur, favorisant une forme de stase et d'hésitation. Dans ce que nous appelons un “attardation engagé, l'urgence se déploie de manière apparemment contradictoire pour devenir simultanément un quotidien de mouvement frénétique et de paralysie.

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Mobilities and Representations: A Conversation with Peter Merriman, Colin Divall, Sunny Stalter-Pace, and Tim Cresswell

Dhan Zunino Singh and Mikkel Thelle

As the centerpiece of the eighth T2M yearbook, the following interview about representations of mobility signals a new and exciting focus area for Mobility in History. In future issues we hope to include reviews that grapple more with how mobilities have been imagined and represented in the arts, literature, and film. Moreover, we hope the authors of future reviews will reflect on the ways they approached those representations. Such commentaries would provide valuable methodological insights, and we hope to begin that effort with this interview. We have asked four prominent mobility scholars to consider how they and their peers are currently confronting representations of mobility. This is particularly timely given the growing academic focus on practices, material mediation, and nonrepresentational theories, as well as on bodily reactions, emotions, and feelings that, according to those theories, cannot be represented or symbolized by words or images.