What is Mobilities?

Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending the Pan-American Mobilities Network’s annual conference, this year framed around the theme of Differential Mobilities. The event was brilliantly hosted by Concordia University’s Mobile Media Lab in Montreal, and brought together a huge range of scholars, some of whom had not been identifying their work with what has been called ‘the new mobilities paradigm‘ by Mimi Sheller and John Urry. Nonetheless, despite, or perhaps more correctly because of, this diversity, the event was extremely fruitful, with papers that were of a very high standard and conversations and events that will stay with me for some time yet.

Since there was a huge new media presence for the event (in part thanks to the huge team of student volunteers that Kim Sawchuk and Ben Spencer amassed), there are several options for those who are curious but couldn’t make it in person. You can check out the conference website, #mobilities13 hashtag, which was used throughout the event, or even my very first explorations of tweeting from an academic conference. The MML team also went around the conference interviewing participants about their work and how they engage with the concept of ‘mobilities’. This series of interviews, entitled ‘What is Mobilities?’ offers brief introductions to people’s research, but even more importantly helps to convey the energy and passion of the conference and the people who comprised it. Too often academic research can seem dry because we encounter it through typeset words that have been poked and prodded to fit expected genres and styles. The WIM? series provides a glimpse of the people, and what makes working in this area so energizing. I did one, which you can find here, or spend some time browsing through the others from a great groups of colleagues.


[View the story “Differential Mobilities Conference 2013” on Storify]