This new issue is an example of our journal's ongoing commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue, cutting-edge approaches, and the rethinking of mobilities. It also features authors at various stages of the academic career, from promising graduate students pursuing new venues to senior international scholars. We are extremely proud of the range of topics covered and the energy that flows through the issue. It starts with a theoretical inquiry into a concept that is central and critical to our lives and to our field: immobility. Noel Salazar revisits some of his previous work and invites us to rethink the “relational and experiential qualities” of what he rightly labels an “ambiguous concept.” Salazar masterfully builds upon language and our concrete and practical experiences of immobility, from mundane life to the new normal of the global COVID-19 crisis, to call on us to pay attention and give intention to the concept of immobility. His article reads as an invigorating manifest for studying and researching immobility as a meaningful, dynamic, and processual spectrum rather than as residual or as an antithesis of mobility.
Echoing this, reading “The Potentiality to Move: Mobility and Future in Digital Nomads’ Practices,” by anthropologists Patrícia Matos and Elisenda Ardévol, reminds us that despite, or rather because of, the coronavirus pandemic's forced immobility, imaginaries remain at the center of humans’ motivations for mobility. The authors explore the emergence of the digital nomad lifestyle and its attending imaginaries through ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Barcelona. Their research points to the ways in which understanding digital nomads’ mobility must involve a comprehension of the latter's self-articulated relationships to the future not only as aspirations but also as anticipatory practices. In “The Transformation of Urban Mobility Practices in Maastricht (1950–1980): Coevolution of Cycling and Car Mobility,” Marc Dijk, Anique Hommels, and Manuel Stoffers draw on the tools of geography, history, and science and technology studies to reconstruct the evolution of mobilities in the Dutch city in the second half of the twentieth century, weaving together cycling and automobility in an enlightening narrative that helps us understand the underpinnings and processes that foreground the transformation of cities. Based on this case study, they also offer insights into ways that social practice approaches could prove more effective than a multilevel perspective in decentering technology and helping us to recognize its integration within the social fabric of everyday life.
Jack Linzhou Xing examines the competition between taxis and ridesharing (e-hailing) from the perspective of the temporality of infrastructures. Focusing on the city of Xi'an in China from mid- to late 2018, he notes that despite full-time e-hailing drivers earning significantly more, the majority of taxi drivers remained in their conventional market. To explain this, he proposes an empirical argument emphasizing livelihood infrastructures and the ways that drivers invest their time, their labor, and themselves in their communities. Maintenance is also at the starting point of inquiry for Lou Therese Brandner's article on cycling in the Netherlands. She explores man–machine hybridization in an environment meant for bikes through fieldwork done in repair shops, revealing the discourses, practices, and values attached to vehicles viewed as extensions of the body.
The article by Benjamin Linder and Galen Murton in our Ideas in Motion section echoes the topics explored in the research articles section, such as immobility and infrastructures, while responding to immediate developments. Exploring the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors invite us to extend the temporal horizon of (post-)disaster mobilities research. Focusing on the case of Nepal, they attend to the protracted process of remobilizing after a disaster. What does it even mean to get back to normal in a world defined by inequality?
This issue of Transfers also showcases new representations of migrations in the Film Review section. French studies scholar Tina Montenegro offers a mobility studies analysis of Mati Diop's Atlantics, winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Through a tale of love, loss, and fantasy, this movie memorializes the victims of migrations and delivers hope for other forms of mobilities.