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Mobilities, Crises, and Turns: Some Comments on Dissensus, Comparative Studies, and Spatial Histories

Peter Merriman

In this article Merriman responds to Gijs Mom's suggestion that mobility historians should develop a common research agenda, formulate big questions, and adopt a transnational and comparative approach. In reply, Merriman suggests that dissensus and multiple approaches have their advantages, and highlights the ongoing importance of the national as a frame of understanding, as well as the importance of spatially sensitive approaches that pose clear challenges to comparative methodologies.

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Road Works

Some Observations on Representing Roads

Peter Merriman

Roads may be represented in many different media and cultural forms, from planning documents and maps to postage stamps, children's books, and postcards. While there has been a tendency among some scholars to study representations for what they can tell us about the history of particular road schemes, this article argues that roads are constructed and consumed as much through paper plans, financial calculations, popular representations, and public imaginations as through concrete and steel on the ground. Representations of roads “matter,” and the article suggests that scholars should study the broad array of representations through which the meanings of roads are produced, circulated, and consumed.

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Editorial

Peter Merriman

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Micro-Mobilities in Lockdown

Peter Merriman

Abstract

In this paper I reflect upon my own micro-mobilities and embodied mobile practices living and working under COVID-19 government restrictions in Wales in mid-2020. I use the opportunity to reflect upon the past ten years of Transfers and to think about future research in the field of mobility studies, arguing that an attention to seemingly ordinary embodied movements and mobilities provides one avenue by which mobility scholars could move beyond the mobility/immobility binary and approach mobility as being more than transport, migration, and communication. Mobility is, I suggest, ubiquitous—even during government lockdowns—and I explain how Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of the “molar” and “molecular” can be useful for understanding how some movements become perceptible and others imperceptible, and why scholars frequently draw a clear distinction between mobility and immobility.

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Editorial

Peter Merriman, Georgine Clarsen, and Gijs Mom

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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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Editorial

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.

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Mobility

Geographies, Histories, Sociologies

Peter Merriman, Rhys Jones, Tim Cresswell, Colin Divall, Gijs Mom, Mimi Sheller, and John Urry

This article is an edited transcript of a panel discussion on “mobility studies“ which was held as part of a workshop on mobility and community at Aberystwyth University on September 3, 2012. In the article the five panelists reflect upon the recent resurgence of research on mobility in the social sciences and humanities, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary debates, and the ways in which established fields such as transport history, migration studies, and sociology are being reshaped by new research agendas. The panelists discuss the importance of engaging with issues of politics, justice, equality, global capital, secrecy, and representation, and they encourage researchers to focus on non-Western and non-hegemonic mobilities, as well as to produce “useable“ studies which engage policy-makers.