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.”
Judith A. Nicholson and Mimi Sheller
Wartime Mobilities in the Burkina Faso–Côte d’Ivoire Transnational Space
The significant number of involuntary returns of labor migrants to Burkina Faso is a relatively neglected aspect of the armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. Between 500,000 and 1 million Burkinabe migrants were forced to leave Côte d’Ivoire between 2000 and 2007, placing tremendous pressure on local communities in Burkina Faso to receive and integrate these mass arrivals, and causing those returning labor migrants an acute sense of displacement. Th is article analyzes the experiences of displacement and resettlement in the context of the Ivorian crisis and explores the dialectics of displacement and emplacement in the lives of involuntary labor migrant returnees; their young adult children; and Burkinabe recruits returning aft er their service in the Forces Nouvelles rebel forces in Côte d’Ivoire.
Realism, Location, Dislocation
This article explores the realist novel's reliance on the discourse of travel developed in the early decades of the nineteenth century, the discourse that authorized self-styled travelers over against the vulgar and proliferating tourists. Taking Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary as a case study, the article shows how the novel structures itself around the sets of oppositions travel discourse employed, most notably that of stasis and mobility, or dwelling and traveling. The fictional narrator strives for authority over against a set of characters differently figured as fixed in place or in entrenched mentalities, and Flaubert's masterful use of free indirect style becomes the narrator's means of establishing that authority through the demonstration of unparalleled mental mobility the technique affords.
Italy as a stepping stone in migrants’ imaginaries
This article explores feelings of disappointment and failure among migrants in Italy. It argues that the ubiquitous circulation of discourses of disappointment can be traced to restricted possibilities for upward mobility produced by the legal, economic, and social forms of marginalization that migrants in Italy encounter. Disappointment, it contends, is the product of an imaginary migration trajectory that views moving on from Italy as the only way to be successful. Arguing that some low-status migrants can be considered “flexible citizens,” I examine how my respondents’ desires for mobility are shaped by opportunities and restrictions that are integral to late capitalism, as well as by the differentiated inclusion into the global market that these produce. By their very nature, however, I show how these desires neglect other kinds of future imaginaries and arguably impede the chance to build greater equality for migrants and their children in the future.
An Essay Exploring Dominant Values and Representations of the Driver in Driverless Technology
This article presents two representations of masculinity based on media images found in television and online promotion related to motor vehicles. The dominant image in much advertising is the bursting, thrusting power of what I refer to as “combustion” masculinity, identified as active engagement and connected with significant road trauma. The less visible, fluid power found in professional driving that I refer to as “hydraulic” masculinity draws on precision and awareness of the surroundings rather than aggressive force. Social analysis of electric and driverless vehicle promotion and media discussion indicate that moving to electric and fully automated driving requires overcoming the essential contradiction of combustion power, as it is associated with cars and freedom. Alternative modes and images of being mobile must be highlighted in order to challenge the combustion image. Fundamentally, activity should be ascribed to all mobile persons, and policy and mobility systems should be designed to maximize mobility for all.
Th e diversity of methodologies, theoretical orientations, geographical settings, and disciplinary perspectives in this special issue of Transfers testifi es to a dual arrival—that of race as a key category of inquiry in mobility studies, and of mobility as a crucial practice in analyses of what scholars in the humanities and social sciences call the social construction of race. Drawing on poststructuralist and critical race theory, refl exive ethnographic methods, and scholarship in literary studies, sociology, and the history of technology, these essays illustrate the versatility of the mobility optic as well as its massive potential for the formation of new knowledge and the eff ecting of egalitarian policy. Th e scholars here make the case for mobility as central to everything from the structured inequalities of the contemporary city to the formation of the raced and gendered modern subject; and their interventions range from the reformist to the ontological. Maybe the infl uential cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz (and the other Western sahibs who recounted the story before him) misunderstood the structure of the world as the fabled Hindu interlocutor conveyed it; perhaps the infi nitely regressing turtles on which the universe rested were never simply standing, but crawling.
More than any other recent urban film, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful (MX/ES 2010) proposes a poignant commentary on the present conditions of a multi-ethnic yet racially segregated city, which is organized by different levels of mobility. Rather than being a tragedy, tracing the last months of Uxbal, a man who, in the face of his impending death, struggles to ensure a sheltered life for his two children, Biutiful can be conceived as a cinematic critique of the city. It offers a distinct contribution to the discourse on urban mobility, since it meticulously deciphers the urban conditions of an emerging new mobility spurred by a permanent quest for adaptability: a complex, contradictory mobility I would like to call a “forced flexible mobility.” In highlighting both the unequal distribution of space and its constant re-appropriation by different ethnic and social groups, this mobility tackles the contradictory status of a “flexible human being” forced into continuous transformation.
Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire
Histories of modern mobility often assume that modern forms of movement arrived in East Asia as part of a universal process of historical development. This article shows that the valorization of modern mobility in East Asia emerged out of the specific context of Euro-American imperial encroachment and Japanese imperial expansion. Through an examination of the tropes of opening and connecting, the article argues that the mobility of the modern can be understood as an “imperial” mobility in two senses: one, as a key component in European, American, and Japanese arguments for the legitimacy of empire; and two, as a global theory of history that constituted circulation as a measure of historical difference.
Katherine Ellinghaus and Sianan Healy
This article examines state efforts to assimilate Indigenous peoples through the spatial politics of housing design and the regulation of access to and use of houses, streets, and towns. Using two Australian case studies in the 1950s, Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve in Victoria and the Gap housing development in the Northern Territory, and inspired by recent scholarship on imperial networks and Indigenous mobilities, it explores Aboriginal people’s negotiation of those efforts through practices of both moving and staying put. We demonstrate the importance of micromobility—which we define as smallscale movements across short distances, in and out of buildings, along roads, and across townships—and argue that in order to fully appreciate the regulation of Indigenous mobility and Indigenous resistance to it, scholars must concentrate on the small, local, and seemingly insignificant as well as more drastic and permanent movement.
Mark C. J. Stoddart and Paula Graham
Since the 1992 cod fishing moratorium, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has redefined social-environmental relationships with coastal landscapes in pursuit of tourism development. We explore how coastal landscapes are defi ned for tourists through traditional and digital media produced by Newfoundland-based tourism operators and the provincial government. We examine how these discourses are then translated by "outsider" mass media in Canada, the US, and the UK, thereby connecting local environments to global flows of tourism. To understand this process of translation and circulation we analyze television ads, websites, and newspaper articles. Additional insight is provided through interviews with tourism operators and promoters about their media work. Drawing on a co-constructionist approach and tourism mobilities literature, we argue that the post-moratorium shift toward tourism has resulted in the packaging and insertion of Newfoundland landscapes into global tourist/travel discourses in multiple ways that depend on medium of circulation and target audience.