After the collapse of the former Soviet Union two decades ago, Russia’s new capitalists moved the industrial complexes from the city centres to the suburbs. These complexes had once provided lairs for Moscow’s free-ranging dogs, a large and shifting feral population that had excited comment from the mid-nineteenth century. Faced in the 1990s with an abruptly changing socio-economic urban topography, the dogs had to relocate their sleeping areas to the city outskirts— but their best scavenging grounds remained the urban hub. So the new running dogs of capitalism—both human and canine—were faced with the same mobility question: how to negotiate transport from domicile to place of employment and back again with maximum efficiency. Astonishingly, a few dogs learned how to jump on fixed subway routes to get to the centre in the morning. Once within the city, the dogs discovered how to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, crossing not with the colour—which they found hard to judge because of their dichromatic vision—but with the changing outline and position of the signal. Then, in the evenings, they became skilled at leaping onto the correct train home, just like their human counterparts. Observers note that these canine commuters sometimes fall asleep and have to get off at the wrong stop, just like weary human commuters.
The Motorway Aesthetics of Postwar Oslo
Even Smith Wergeland
This article explores the 1965 Transport Analysis for Greater Oslo, a municipal planning document in which the routing of a large urban motorway through Oslo is richly illustrated in a series of drawings and prints. The images on display in the Transport Analysis were widely circulated in the mid- to late 1960s, thereby creating a mobile exhibition that reached a wide audience and connected with a number of other images. Through this circulation, the Transport Analysis became entangled in an intricate visual discourse that aestheticized urban motorways and linked up with radical currents in European postwar architecture. While the Transport Analysis has previously been interpreted quite narrowly, merely as the product of a pragmatic engineering mind-set, this article posits that one must move beyond the technocratic level to unravel its wider meanings.
Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life
Lisbeth Kristine Olesen Walakira and Susan Wright
EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.
The Case of the Baka of Southeast Cameroon—A Variation on the Habitual Mobility–Immobility Nexus
Harrison Esam Awuh
This article demonstrates how conservation-induced immobilization affects the movement of knowledge and practices. I employ the case study of the Baka of East Cameroon to show how spatial immobility, or forced anthropostasis, among the Baka influences the flow of some kinds of knowledge and practices. This study also offers a critique of the view that, when hunter-gatherers settle in towns or permanent villages, their access to new knowledge and practices will be improved, thereby making their lives better. Rather, the loss of local medical knowledge, increased alcohol abuse, and an increasing destabilization of the ecological environment are the main detrimental consequences of new forms of knowledge that Baka are acquiring in villages as a result of contacts with the state, absorption into a capitalist society, and the influence of western-based nongovernmental organizations.
Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond
Corina Balaban and Susan Wright
This special issue emerged as a result of Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE), a four-year collaborative research project and training programme for early-stage researchers that investigated the dynamic relationships between universities and knowledge economies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Rim. The project was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and included researchers based at six different universities in five European countries. Mobility was not only a widespread research interest within the UNIKE academic community but also a reality of the project, which was in itself a practical example of mobility in doctoral education, as envisaged by the European Commission. Many questions emerged as to how mobility became so central to the European Union’s policies for higher education, but also as to how the portrayal of mobility on a policy level compared to the actual lived experiences of mobile students and researchers. ‘Mobility’ can refer to many different things: geographical mobility, social mobility, cross-sectoral mobility or intellectual mobility (interdisciplinarity). The academic literature mostly treats them separately, with clusters of studies around each concept. In contrast, this special issue sets out to investigate these different types of mobility collectively, with authors covering several parts or the whole spectrum of mobilities. We believe it is valuable to discuss these four different aspects of mobility together for two reasons. First, they are often mentioned together in higher education policy as ‘desirable’ characteristics of a given education programme. Second, the ideal profile of the new, flexible knowledge worker supposedly combines all these aspects of mobility in one persona. The policy literature produced by influential stakeholders in higher education such as the European Commission and the OECD focuses on how to encourage, foster and support different kinds of mobility, working on the assumption that mobility is inherently good and will benefit countries, higher education systems and individuals. Much of the academic literature has adopted a similar approach, focusing on ways to enable mobility rather than challenge it.
Mobilities Studies, a Transdiciplinary Field
The inter- and multidisciplinary field of mobility studies is in full swing: at least seven dedicated journals and several dedicated book series now cover the field, and the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M); Cosmobilities; and related associations and networks are cooperating ever more closely. As mobility studies have gained importance and grown into a field of its own, with its own organizations, other disciplines have become interested in mobilities. While this trend indicates the health and strength of mobility studies per se, it brings with it the obligation to consider new ways to reach out and expand.
Mobility, Transfers, and Cultural Appropriation
In his recent “manifesto” for future “mobility studies,” Stephen Greenblatt demands that studies investigating mobility from a cultural perspective should (a) make sure not to ignore mobility in the “literal sense,” that is, the “physical, infrastructural, and institutional conditions of movement,” (b) pay attention to “hidden” as well as “conspicuous” forms of movement, (c) look at the “contact zones” of cultural transfer, (d) consider the “tension between individual agency and structural constraint” in these processes and, finally, (e) not forget the “sensation” of “locality,” and the “allure” of “local cultures.”1
From Colonial Rangoon to Postcolonial Yangon
Beth E. Notar, Kyaw San Min and Raju Gautam
This article investigates three historical moments in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar) when the city has restricted certain forms of mobility. The first occurred in 1920, when British authorities restricted rickshaws pulled by Indian laborers. The second was in 1960, when the military “caretaker government” sought to sideline pedicabs and horse carts as part of an urban “cleanup” campaign. The third happened in 2017, when city authorities under a new democratic government sought to limit the number of taxis and allow digital ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab to operate in the city. Despite three very different forms of government, the later discourses eerily echo the exclusionary logic that certain forms of migrant driven mobility need to be cleared away for more “modern” mobility.
A View from the Past
Colin G. Pooley
Contemporary society assumes high levels of unimpeded mobility, and disruptions to the ability to move quickly and easily can cause considerable concern. This paper examines the notion of mobility uncertainty and disruption from an historical perspective, arguing that interruptions to mobility have long been a characteristic of everyday travel. It is suggested that what has changed is not so much the extent or nature of disruption, but rather the resilience of transport systems and societal norms and expectations about travel. Data are taken from five examples of life writing produced by residents of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The texts are used to illustrate the travel problems encountered and the strategies adopted to deal with them. A concluding discussion examines these themes in the context of twenty-first century mobility.
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.”