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Making a Community Embedded in Mobility

Refugees, Migrants, and Tourists in Dharamshala (India)

Natalia Bloch

This case study of Dharamshala (India), a community that emerged as an outcome of mobility just a few decades ago and is constantly fueled by refugees, migrants, and tourists, aims to challenge the conceptual boundary between a receiving society and mobile Others, and to pose questions about community making in the context of postcolonial mobility. The history of Dharamshala reflects both the legacy of colonialism and the modern processes of mobility in postcolonial Asia. The town’s highly fluid and heterogeneous community consists of people of different nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and castes from Tibet, Nepal, the Global North, and various Indian states. Most are seasonal migrants attracted by the success of Tibetans in turning this in fact refugee settlement into a popular tourist destination, while some have already settled there. Communities embedded in mobility—for which mobility is an everyday lived experience—reshape our thinking about adaptation processes and social coexistence.

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Nicholas Balaisis

This article examines the Cuban mobile cinema campaign in the 1960s as a case study for thinking about the relationship between cinema and mobility. I examine the rhetoric around mobile cinema in Cuban journals such as Cine Cubano, and in the documentary film Por primera vez (For the first time, 1967). I argue that cinema is linked with mobility in two primary ways: as a virtual mobility stimulated by onscreen images, and as a more literal mobility expressed by the transportation of film into remote rural sites of exhibition. These two kinds of mobility reflect the hopes and ambitions of filmmakers and critics energized by the resurgent nationalism of the Cuban revolution, and the excitement of cinema as a “new” technology in rural Cuba.

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City Sterilization and Poverty Management

Examining a Mobility Hub in the “Redevelopment and Enhancement” of Downtown Tallahassee

Christopher M. McLeod, Matthew I. Horner, Matthew G. Hawzen and Mark DiDonato

People experiencing homelessness use service centers, shelters, missions, and other voluntary organizations to access material resources and social networks. Because these service hubs have a dense array of resources, people sometimes incorporate them into their daily movements around urban space, which results in patterns or tendencies called mobility systems. Drawing on participant observation, document analysis, and spatial analytics via geographic information systems (GIS), we describe the mobility system organized around one homeless services center in Tallahassee, Florida. Moreover, we present a case study of how this homeless services center was moved away from downtown to an upgraded facility to show how city administrators manage homeless mobility systems when they are deemed unsafe for downtown redevelopment. The case supports previous studies that found punitive and supportive strategies are used together, but adds how mobility and “network capital” can be used to evaluate center relocations in the future.

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Balancing the Here and There

Transnational Mobilities of Moroccan Middle-class Professionals in Istanbul

Christian Ritter

This article explores the ways Moroccan middle-class professionals residing in Istanbul have forged transnational connections since the 2006 free trade agreement between Turkey and Morocco. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the article finds that research participants embrace three interdependent mobilities – imaginative, corporeal and virtual. First, Moroccan television viewers imaginatively internalise images of Turkish society through Turkish programmes broadcast in Morocco. Then, Moroccan nationals engage in physical travel to Turkey, initially as tourists, but later also as job seekers. Finally, Moroccan residents of Istanbul travel virtually to keep in touch with friends and family through media such as online platforms and instant messaging applications. In this article I argue that users of virtual environments have developed into new transnational brokers, facilitating the spatial extension of border-crossing networks.

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Between Afropolitans and new Sankaras

Class mobility and the reproduction of academics in Burkina Faso

Michelle Engeler

Using the notion of Afropolitanism, which refers to highly mobile and well-connected “Africans of the world,” this article examines the relative privileges of university graduates within Burkina Faso across generational divides. Comparisons emerge between cohorts graduating in the 1970s and the 2010s. While graduates of the 1970s enjoyed access to a privileged status through their local university education and a related network of global cosmopolitan qualifications and credentials, contemporary students have only limited access to this route of class mobility. The frustration engendered by this helps to explain the shape of the uprising that ousted the president of Burkina Faso in 2014, as the diminishing access to Afropolitan identities pitches the younger generation of students into different emerging constellations of political mobilization.

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Marie Thébaud-Sorger

In the history of aeronautics, the balloon has long been regarded as relatively unimportant—or even excluded from the field; “lighter-than-air” technology (to use the expression coined by Nadar) was considered a dead-end which may have delayed the arrival of airplanes at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, in the early years of aviation, both technologies were deeply interrelated on numerous levels, sharing the same milieu of entrepreneurs, pilots (for instance the remarkable Santos Dumont) and public enthusiasm. But the disappearance of dirigibles accompanies the construction of a heroic history of powered flight by the airplane as a symbol of modernity. However, the focus has recently shifted, through the work of eminent aviation historians such as Tom Crouch,1 and also because dirigible history has returned to the scene—for instance through the excellent studies of Guillaume de Syon who has stressed the popular and political mobilization that sustained the impressive development of this technology from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the 1930s. From the point of view of the aeronautics community (lobbies, technicians and publicists), 1880s dirigibles were a technology of the future that inherited a longstanding culture originating in the first aerostatic experiments at the end of the eighteenth century. If balloons could not yet be steered, aerial displacement was indeed a practical technique applied in races and experiments, and associated with learned societies, conferences and shows. Such endeavors nourished public expectations, political investments and, with the introduction of the dirigible, even fostered an institutional regulatory framework in the first international aerial law, as in the international conference at La Haye in 1899.

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New Mobilities, Spaces, and Ideas to Market

European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment

Steven D. Spalding

This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.

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Race and the Micropolitics of Mobility

Mobile Autoethnography on a South African Bus Service

Bradley Rink

Th is article takes an autoethnographic approach in exploring the micropolitics of mobility with particular reference to race, class, and identity on one South African bus service. For his daily commute between an inner-city Cape Town suburb and a worksite near the metropolitan edge, the author explores personal, embodied, and political dimensions of mobility in a context where race continues to dictate the expected parameters of mobility practice. When socioeconomics might allow for private car ownership and use (and when timegeographies almost require it), the autoethnography at the heart of this article requires the author to question the politics of choosing not to drive; to be a public transport passeng er when one is expected to be a driver. In spite of the author’s intentional status in the member group of bus passengers, experience of six months of everyday bus use sheds light on hidden dimensions of mobility inequality. It contributes toward filling a gap in empirical evidence on contemporary bus passengering and the continuing role of race in contexts of visibly differentiated and differentiating everyday mobility.

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Holly Thorpe

This article advocates the value of a mobilities approach to examining the lived experiences of youth in contexts of war, conflict, and disaster. With the aim of moving beyond “victim” narratives, it critically examines three cases of youth engagement in alternative sporting forms in post-earthquakes Christchurch and conflict-torn Afghanistan and Gaza. These are contexts in which youth physical mobilities are highly constrained, yet in each of these cases we also see youth creatively developing an array of strategies and initiatives to help improve their own and others’ health and well-being, for social and physical pleasure, and in some cases to challenge power relations. The three brief cases highlight the multiple and complex layers of transnational mobilities, with the flows of people, objects, and ideas across borders, being negotiated and (re)appropriated by youth in locally specific ways.

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“Looking for One’s Life”

Trapped Mobilities and Adventure in Morocco

Sébastien Bachelet

This article examines how “irregular” migrants from West and Central Africa make sense of their trapped mobility in Morocco: for many, crossing into Europe has become almost impossible, returning to home countries “empty-handed” a shameful option, and staying very difficult in the face of repeated infringement of their rights. I explore the limits of contemporary depictions of a “migration crisis” that portray migrants south of the Mediterranean Sea as simply en route to Europe and fail to engage with (post)colonial entanglements. The article recalibrates the examinationof migrants’ lived experiences of stasis and mobility by exploring the emic notion of “adventure” among migrants “looking for their lives.” A focus on how migrants articulate their own (im)mobility further exposes and defies the pitfalls of abstract concepts such as “transit migration,” which is misleading in its implication of a fixed destination.