Landscapes of Mobility: Culture, Politics, and Placemaking

Ashgate, September 2013

Our world is unquestionably one in which ubiquitous movements of people, goods, technologies, media, money, and ideas produce systems of flows. This book focuses on quotidian landscapes of mobility, because despite their seemingly familiar and innocuous appearances these spaces exert tremendous control over our behavior and activities. Our repeated engagements with these landscapes tend to become so habitual and taken for granted that their powerful impact on our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and actions may not be immediately evident to us. Examining the politics of place and motion is an important avenue of scholarship that can provide much needed perspective on the study of landscapes of mobility in the 21st Century. This volume proposes to focus on human beings’ embodied engagements with their built world by studying the constitution, politics and mappings of these complex landscapes. Ten chapters and an editorial preface seek to provide diverse perspectives on the ideological and political underpinnings of landscapes of mobility.

The three sections in our proposed volume examine systems of places that constitute distinct cultural landscapes of mobility. In the first section we focus on elements that make up the landscape of mobility. These elements include bodies of humans who move, buildings that move, and practices that move. This section highlights the fundamental epistemological need to study constitutive elements that move within specific cultural landscapes of mobility – and do so at multiple geographical scales.

The second section takes a further look on the politics of mobility. We examine how practices of displacement such as emigration, travel, and tourism produce a hybridized sense of place, a unique geographical imagination and a particular architectural response. These chapters show that our embodied and emotional responses to our world are based on our racial, gender, class, national, or occupational backgrounds. Four chapters in this section draws from the present and the past and case studies across continents, providing a comparative framework for prospective readers. By comparing the perceptual, affective (emotional), and cognitive engagements between people and their built environment these chapters demonstrate how place and landscapes play an important part in mediating the politics of mobile cultural contact.

Finally, no discussion of the cultural landscapes of mobility is complete without a critical comparison of various practices of representation. By examining how flows of people, places, practices, ideas, images, objects and places are mapped the final section hopes to focus on the politics of representation as well as our internalization of such representational politics. Three chapters in this section explore the role of representations and maps in delineating and reproducing landscapes of mobility.

This book introduces a comparison of case studies across the world, to include studies beyond the Western world, concerning Benin, United States, India, Mali, Senegal, Japan, Haiti, and Romania. The intention of choosing examples from these locations – as well as some chapters that study mobility between and across these spaces is to mark the transnational conditions of mobility. We have intentionally chosen historical examples in order to compare landscapes of mobility across time. While acknowledging the intensification of a culture of mobility in the present, by using examples from the 19th and 20th Centuries we remind our readers that similar (if less intense) practices existed in the past.

Essays by: Jennifer Johung, Stephen Verderber, James Rojas, Marcus Filippello, Dora Epstein Jones, Andreas Mihalache, Brandon County, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, Clare Lyster, Arijit Sen.