top view of a freeway in Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

About the 2022 GMHC

From its earliest days, mobility studies has been intensely concerned with “the infrastructure of social life,” (Urry 2017, 13). Mobility might be seen as a kind of infrastructure for the social while it is undergirded by infrastructures of systems that enable and disable mobilities. Notably, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobility infrastructure came to be recognized as indispensable for human life itself, while brutely materializing its geographical inequality and acutely strengthening racial, sexual, and class discrimination and their intersections. But which infrastructures enable the movement of people, things, ideas, and information; that makes possible not only the socialities of everyday life but the circulation of power and wealth, especially as they have undergirded the formations and afterlives of empire and settler-colonialism (Cowen 2020)? For example, logistics, roads, railways, ports, sea routes, transportation networks, pipelines, and the like have been taken into consideration by many researchers in the mobility studies field. So too have internet servers, mail and postage systems, under-sea cables, charging points, bike docking stations, as well as churches, cafes and corner-shops, bodies and practices as ‘arrival’ infrastructures for mobile subjects (Jung and Buhr 2021; Meues et al. 2019). What, then, might count as a mobility infrastructure?

 

Many narratives of infrastructure, and indeed mobility, suggest their invisibility . Where it is only in their breakdown that we are forced to see the usually sunk or hidden qualities of infrastructures beneath our feet. Studies of infrastructure often involve staying with, following, and especially maneuvers of looking beneath and (un)concealment (Hetherington 2019). Sometimes these seek to reveal the political and power relations infrastructures perform and reproduce, and the (often mobile) lives and livelihoods that service and labour the infrastructures we depend upon. Might we foreground mobility infrastructures, then, if (in)visible and unthought, ‘deep’ or ‘under’, in the way they are unearthed by the (im)mobile practices of research that elicit, know, reveal, uncloak, surface, dig, spotlight, or perhaps write, draw, envision, revision, among other modalities of looking, sensing, writing and creative expression?

 

The 2022 GMHC is to be a platform to discuss mobility infrastructures in its technologies, geographies, histories, cultures, as well as its social being, ethics, justice, and affects from the mobility humanities perspective. Indeed, as the humanities are challenged not only by COVID, but structural changes in academia and its funding in many contexts, the conference might reflect upon what new infrastructures and (im)mobilities are possible and necessary in the Humanities? Given the emphasis on (virtual) labs, digital platforms, networks and emerging practices to share and collaborate and engage publics in new spaces (Eccles 2021), what might mobility infrastructures offer for a Humanities under threat?

 

This conference presents an opportunity for scholars to share their ideas and inquiries at the intersection of mobilities studies and humanities, transcending the sometimes conventional divide between the social sciences and humanities and the arts. The conference theme, “Mobility, Infrastructure, and the Humanities,” enables scholars to engage with the mobility humanities from different academic disciplines. With the advent of a ‘high-mobility’ (Viry and Kauffmann 2015) society, infrastructures come to have more far-reaching power, but are perhaps even more taken for granted. Wary of the dangers that they are assumed as universal and taken as ungrounded or uncritically, we encourage studies that contemplate geographic variation, difference and specificity of context across different global regions, national contexts, locations and places.

Co-Organized by

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The Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility & Humanities (MoHu Centre), based at the Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World of the University of Padua (Italy), configures itself as an international research hub for the humanistic study of mobility. Drawing from a rich and unique mix of disciplines, and equipped with a Digital Laboratory for Mobility Research (MobiLab), the Centre aims to contribute original work to the emerging area of the mobility humanities in connection with other Centres worldwide. Committed to running the Mobility & Humanities Seminar Series, within which key and emergent speakers in the field are regularly invited, it is a place where intellectual exchange and hospitality take a crucial part in the development of brand-new research. Within the MoHu, five Department research clusters (Nodes) develop interdisciplinary activities and sub-projects on the mobilities of People, Ideas, Objects, Texts, and mobility Theories & methods.

The Academy of Mobility Humanities (AMH) of Konkuk University intends to create innovative research platforms to deal with the development of mobility technology, the daily movement of things, and their connected issues. The HK+ Mobility Humanities Institute (MHI), a sub institute of the Academy of Mobility Humanities (AMH), is the leading research institute for Humanities Korea Plus (HK+), supported by the National Research Foundation in 2018. MHI hosts the annual GMHC. The AMH attempts to help to cultivate a better society for humanities-based thinking. In doing so, we aim to become one of the main representative institutes of mobility research internationally, which also fosters new researchers. The AMH continues to evolve as a center from where mobility-focused research engages practical as well as scholarly questions that are planetary in scope.

 

The Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities is a major interdisciplinary initiative cultivating links between arts and humanities scholars, creative practitioners, geographers and the cultural and heritage sectors. The emergence of the GeoHumanities reflects recent developments in theory (including the spatial turn and the idea of the Anthropocene), politics (the increasing urgency of environmental crises and questions of displacement), technology (from the embrace of geo-coded data to artificial intelligence) and practice (site -specific performance art and the creative use of locative media).

 

The work of the Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities focuses in particular on four themes:

   · Imaginative geographies of the earth

   · Mobilities and the humanities

   . Creative interventions in urban space and the environment

   · Heritage, culture and nature