What good are mobility scholars? And what does our scholarship—be it rooted in history, geography, sociology, anthropology, or any other discipline—provide the world outside academia? Those are questions I have been pondering for the last year, ever since Gijs Mom and Peter Merriman engaged in a stimulating polemic in the pages of Yearbook Six. Must we move beyond our academic silos, as Mom suggested, and peek (if not step boldly) into interdisciplinary work and even policy? Can the scholar be a planner or policy maker? Can the historian offer insights on the future of mobility? And what of our subjects? Should our gaze be turned to the international? The comparative? Or, as Merriman argued, should we polish well-trod national mobilities in ways that allow new subjects, local particularities, and actors to shine through?
This is the eighth issue of Mobility in History. It is also the last issue that will appear as a stand-alone journal. While no new versions of the publication will be created in the existing mold, the publication and the types of work it has published over nearly a decade of production are far from disappearing. Elements of the Yearbook will become an essential part of T2M’s website, providing a key interface between the organization, its members, and the public. Further, with a strong stable of publications in operation, some articles traditionally found in Mobility in History may have landing spots in Transfers and The Journal of Transport History. Finally, back issues of Mobility in History will remain accessible to members in perpetuity, providing a meaningful archive of work.
Peter Norton, Gijs Mom, Liz Millward, Mathieu Flonneau and Tomás Errázuriz
With volume 4 the T2M Yearbook has graduated from its initial three-year experimental phase. We can now speak of our Yearbook’s history and its traditions—among them relentless pursuit of historiographical reviews about mobility scholarship in countries that too often escape attention elsewhere, unusual thematic reviews that offer new perspectives on historical mobility studies, and more personal, retrospective assessments of the contributions of leading scholars and classic works. The 17 peer-reviewed articles in this year’s Yearbook are faithful to these traditions.
This year’s Mobility in History is the sixth edition of the T2M Yearbook. With this volume a new editorial team has taken over with plans to carry on the strong tradition created by the preceding teams led by Gijs Mom and Peter Norton. Yearbook Six once again offers a collection of articles reviewing the cutting edge of mobility scholarship across several disciplines and highlighting exciting new directions toward which this vibrant field can move. In addition, this yearbook features two articles, by Dhan Zunino Singh and Christian Kehrt, that represent the first iterations of what are intended to become annual features in future volumes.
Using Peter Merriman's recent book as a trigger, this review-cum-polemic argues that mobility history is facing a scholarly crisis in the midst of other mobility-related fields that are blossoming. The core of the diagnosis is a lack of debate on a central question that is painfully missing. The article suggests as a remedy the opening up of the field along the paths of transmodality, transdisciplinarity, and especially transnationality. The national bias of much historical scholarship is a hindrance to its future blooming.
In this review article, Sur reads across disciplines to join studies of partitions, borders, and mobility. Sur shows how two important partitions of the twentieth century that historically shaped South Asia's modern cartography continue to exert a shadow on everyday life and state violence at its longest boundary, the India-Bangladesh border.
Dhan Zunino Singh
Considering ‘urban mobility as an important everyday life practice that produces meaning and culture,’ the present review discusses underground railway history in cultural terms. Following Colin Divall and George Revill, culture is understood here as representations and practices, and the underground railway ‘as mediation between the imaginable and the material.’ This review does not cover the prolific literature about this topic, but gathers perspectives from within and beyond transport or mobility history to contribute to a historical and comparative assessment of spatial representations and practices related to the production and uses of this subterranean mode of transport. The sources of these perspectives are Benson Bobrick’s Labyrinths of Iron, Rosalind Williams’s Notes on the Underground, Michael Brooks’s Subway City, David Pike’s Subterranean Cities, and Andrew Jenks’s A Metro of the Mount.
The Canada/U.S. border has not shifted physically in many years but psychologically the border is in a very different place today than before 9/11. While the various agreements of the late 1900s seemed to indicate that the border was becoming an informal formality, the events of 9/11 resulted in a significant increase in wait times as security protocols were tightened. This review article considers recent scholarship on border mobility, waiting, and their implications moving forward.
In the last two decades many researchers have taken diverse approaches to the study of airports. The airport was long considered a topic for specialists and designers, or admired as a monument celebrating the spectacle of aeromobility—from early aeronautical shows to later Sunday excursions to the huge observation terraces overlooking the airfield. Today the airport as a critical issue permeates the literature at various angles. Why such a profusion and what do these works offer the history of mobility?
Manuel Stoffers and Anne-Katrin Ebert
Writing late in 2009 for Mobility in History, Manuel Stoffers, Harry Oosterhuis, and Peter Cox observed that research publications on the history of bicycling were scarce—especially publications on cycling as a mode of transport, past and present. Their article was itself an indication of increasing academic interest in the history of cycling as transport, as distinguished from the history of cycling as sport, and the technological history of the bicycle and bicycle production.