Mobility is not just a theme running throughout Caribbean history, but describes a conceptual approach and theoretical framework for better understanding the region. This review seeks to situate the history of Caribbean tourism in relation to a wider field of mobility studies in the region and highlights recent research in this area.
The articles in this special issue show how a theoretical approach informed by the mobilities turn can reveal new facets of the history of dangerous mobility. This afterword draws together some of these lessons concerning materialities, bodily sensations, and performativity, and then considers how we might study these aspects of danger and mobility from an international, comparative, and historical methodological perspective.
The Mobile Itineraries of Knowledge-scapes
This special section elucidates intersections between the historiography of mobilities and the interdisciplinary field of mobilities research. The articles highlight relationships between mobilities and stabilization, circulation and place-making, deterritorialization and reterritorialization. This response essay seeks to dispel three myths about mobility studies: (1) that it is purely about the contemporary world, rather than the historical dimensions of mobile processes; (2) that it focuses solely on material phenomenon of physical transport (i.e., of things and people) and ignores the movement of ideas, knowledge, and culture; and (3) that it is purely about “flows” and “circulation” and has little to teach us about friction, resistances, blockages, or uneven power relations. The most important intersections of the histories of mobilities and the field of mobility studies can be found in the ways in which each emphasizes power differentials, blockages, friction, and the relation between mobilities and immobilities.
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.
Mimi Sheller and Gijs Mom
Th is issue sheds new light on one of the classic concerns of mobility studies: transitions in forms of personal transportation. Mobility transitions are arguably one of the key issues of the twenty-first century, as societies around the world face the pressing questions of climate change mitigation and adaptation. A better understanding of recent and historical transitions not only in vehicle technologies but also in urban forms could be crucial to guiding future transition dynamics. At the same time, a deeper appreciation of historical transitions in transportation can also inform how we think about the present: what methods we use, what factors we take into consideration, and what theoretical perspectives we employ.
Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars
Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller
The imagination of automated automobility puts into question the control of the vehicle by a masculine driver and potentially disturbs feelings of safety, power, security, and freedom. Given that systems of automobility and communication technology are already gendered and racialized in particular ways, this article explores how recent “premediated” depictions of automated car technologies reconfigure and reproduce the historically gendered and raced representations, meanings, and practices of (auto)mobility. This inquiry employs a media ecological approach within the qualitative analysis of two concept car previews by Nissan and Volvo. Rather than a degendering of the driver, we suggest a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility via several forms of hypermediation. We also explore how the autonomous car continues to evoke utopian spatial metaphors of the car as sanctuary and communicative environment while allaying fears of dystopian metaphors of the vehicle as traffic trap, virtual glass house, and algorithmic target.
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.”
Sue Frohlick, Kristin Lozanski, Amy Speier and Mimi Sheller
What mobilizes people to take up reproductive options, directions, and trajectories in ways that generate the possibilities and practices of mobilities? People’s desires for procreation or to resolve fertility challenges or partake in sperm donation, egg freezing, or surrogacy; the need for abortion services; and forced evacuation for childbirth care all involve movement. Reproductive aspirations, norms, and regulations move people’s bodies, as well as related technologies and bioproducts. At the same time, these corporeal, material, in/tangible mobilities of bodies, things, and ideas are also generative of reproductive imaginaries and practices. Reproduction is mobile and movement affects reproduction. Building from an interdisciplinary workshop on reproductive mobilities in Kelowna, Canada, this article aims to push the mobilities framework toward the edges of feminist, affect, queer, decolonizing, materialist, and nonrepresentational theories in thinking through both reproduction and movement.
An Interdisciplinary Conversation
Cristina Temenos, Anna Nikolaeva, Tim Schwanen, Tim Cresswell, Frans Sengers, Matt Watson and Mimi Sheller
Despite a surge of multidisciplinary interest in transition studies on low-carbon mobilities, there has been little evaluation of the current state of the field, and the contributions of different approaches such as the multi-level perspective (MLP), theories of practice, or the new mobilities paradigm. As a step in this direction, this contribution brings together scholars representing different theoretical perspectives and disciplinary fields in order to discuss processes and uneven geographies of mobility transitions as they are currently theorized. First, we reflect upon the role of geographers and other social scientists in envisioning, enabling, and criticizing mobility transitions. Second, we discuss how different theoretical approaches can develop mobility transitions scholarship. Finally, we highlight emerging issues in mobility transitions research.
Gijs Mom, Georgine Clarsen, Peter Merriman, Cotten Seiler, Mimi Sheller and Heike Weber
In the middle of last year, a large survey in the Netherlands revealed that the average Dutch person dedicates seven hours per day to “media consumption.” That is the gross value, the surveyors assure us. The net value is 5.5, meaning that 1.5 hours are spent multitasking, such as watching TV and surfing on the net, or “tweeting” (on Twitter) during a football match. Remarkably, using the cell phone while driving would not qualify as multitasking as the car is not considered to be a medium. Users know better, as we will see in this issue, and mobility researchers are devising conceptual frameworks that are adequate to the complex and multiple relations between diverse media.