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Afterword

Dangerous Mobilities

Mimi Sheller

Abstract

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.

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Response

The Mobile Itineraries of Knowledge-scapes

Mimi Sheller

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.

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Mimi Sheller

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.

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Ten Years of Transfers

Mobility Studies and Social Change during a Pandemic

Mimi Sheller

Abstract

In a brief reflection on the multiple disruptions of mobilities imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this article shows the significance of the scholarship published in Transfers over the last ten years for thinking about the future. Clearly the encounter with a novel and deadly virus—transferred between people, traveling rapidly across geographical regions, crossing over the threshold of our bodies, buildings and borders—has drastically changed many things about us, about cities, about economies, and about the world. An analysis inspired by critical mobility studies highlights the inequities of the mobility disruption, especially in the United States, the importance of histories and representations of mobility for understanding the present situation, and the need for changed choreographies of mobility after the pandemic.

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Mimi Sheller and Gijs Mom

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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.

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Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

Abstract

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.

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Judith A. Nicholson and Mimi Sheller

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Vistas of Future New Mobility Studies

Transfers and Transformations

Georgine Clarsen, Peter Merriman, and Mimi Sheller

Abstract

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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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.