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Call for Papers, Artsworks, Posters

Call for Papers, Artsworks, Posters

Mobile Utopia: Pasts, Presents, Futures

Conference 2-5 November 2017 / Fringe Events 29 October – 2 November 2017

At Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, UK

‘Mobilising’ utopia can provide important insights into intergenerational, multi-scalar, human and non-human interconnectivities across transport, traffic and mobilities. From Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) to Ruth Levitas’ Utopia as method (2013) and John Urry’s What is the future? (2016), utopia has been a powerful means to explore how societies have shaped, and have been shaped by, complex im|mobilities, from microbial to big data mobilities, from horse-drawn carriages to driverless cars, from migration to planetary jet streams. Faced with the global uncertainties of the Anthropocene, utopia provides renewed analytical and creative purchase.

This joint conference brings together historians, researchers, artists, policy-makers, designers, and innovators to explore Mobile Utopia: Pasts, presents and futures. Lancaster’s Centre for Mobilities Research, the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M) and the Cosmobilities Network have joined together to invite contributions across the spectrum of mobile utopian themes. In addition, proposals may address any aspect of the history, and social, cultural, economic, technological, creative, ecological and political aspects of transport, traffic and mobility.

The celebrations that marked the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia have been both global and wide-ranging. In his seminal work, More outlined his ideas around an alternative society living in a City of Man in contrast with former visions of the City of God. Five centuries later, we are part of a world where 54 per cent of the population live in cities (Worldbank 2015), and the trend is set to continue and increase, with the UN estimating that the world’s population is to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. This poses great challenges concerning natural resources, (food) security, clean water, energy, environmental and social justice, and more. This all involves mobilities of different kinds, operating at different spatial and temporal scales, with different motivations, processes, and consequences.

Utopia is an integrative method that can assist us when thinking about the relationship between societies and mobilities past, present, and future. It can help us trace the complex interconnections between the urban and the rural, the digital, oceanic, global, and planetary, the here-and-now and the longue durée. Utopia creates rich ground for contestation, as one person’s utopia can be another’s dystopia, and innovative visions followed through produce unintended consequences. From the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to visions of a future where CO2 emissions are no longer the norm, utopia helps us challenge the past and present by imagining the future.As research has shown, transformations in governance, everyday practices, and exchanges between communities are key to the success or failure of these visions.

This call invites proposals exploring utopia as a heuristic and creative methodology – rather than as a narrative closed system – which challenges our assumptions about what has been possible in the past and what will be possible and preferable in the future. We invite reflections on the diverse dimensions of im|mobility adopting such a utopian perspective from any city, country or place, in relation to any theme, scale, or period in history. We encourage transnational, comparative, artistic, design-led, interdisciplinary and trans-modal approaches, and welcome proposals exploring theoretical or methodological issues as well as those of a more empirical nature. We invite different submission and presentation formats.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Traffic, transport, mobilities and social futures
  • Urban, rural, digital mobilities
  • Space, geoengineering, planetary mobilities
  • Intergenerational mobilities
  • Embodiment, health, healing and wellbeing
  • Civility, migration and citizenship
  • Mobility justice, human rights and mobility
  • Pasts, presents, futures of tourism
  • Energy production and consumption
  • Automation, autonomous machines, robotics
  • Post-human ontology, phenomenology
  • Critiques of the concept of anthropocene, non-human mobilities
  • Sustainable mobilities
  • Utopia in the ruins of capitalism and modernity
  • Living alternatives
  • Corporate mobilities futures
  • Utopia as method
  • Mobile utopias, dystopias, anti-utopias, beyond-utopias
  • The history and heritage of mobile utopia
  • Mobile Utopia & the state, globalization, cosmopolitanism
  • Free-market and neoliberal utopia
  • Values and moral orders of mobility and travel
  • Arts practice and research as mobile utopia

Proposals can be for individual papers, panels, artworks, posters, and other creative formats as outlined below. We welcome relevant contributions from any academic perspective or discipline, from professionals, policy makers and practitioners, as well as artists and creative professionals, designers, and engineers. Recent entrants to the research field and doctoral students are very welcome.

The conference language is English.

Submission deadline is April 15th.  Hope this give you a little bit more space to be creative.

We can’t wait to receive your contributions!

The Programme Committee

Mobile Utopia_partners2

Sharing Mobilities – New Perspectives for societies on the move?

Sharing Mobilities – New Perspectives for societies on the move?




Bridgette Wessels (University of Sheffield), Tim Cresswell (Northeastern University, Boston), Philipp Rode (London School of Economics) John Urry memorial session: Roundtable conversation on the legacy of John’s work on the mobilities turn in social science.

Fishbowl session

Sharing mobilities from a practitioners perspective: Invited speakers from mobility-related industry and city planning will engage with conference participants in a lively, moderated discussion.

Moving on – Closing Panel

Mimi Sheller (Drexel University), Kevin Hannam (Edinburgh Napier University), Sven Kesselring (Nürtingen-Geislingen University). The panelist will pick up on themes they have encountered throughout the conference and engage with conference participants in a discussion on the future of sharing mobilities.

Conference scope

The mobility world is massively changing. New policies, new modes of transport and new socio-spatial practices of mobilities are on the rise. Jeremy Rifkin saw this clearly in 2000. In his bestseller ‘The Age of Access’ he says the future of modern societies will no longer be solely organized through individual property and ownership. Rather, new collaborative forms of consumption and sharing would play a key role in the organization of everyday life and business. In fact, new cultures of sharing and participation are emerging: people share cars, bikes, houses, expertise and mastery in science and craftsmen’s work etc. Once radical visions have become part of the lingering but steady transformation of norms, procedures, routines and capitalist principles. A burgeoning political awareness can be witnessed in cities, regions, in mobilities research, planning, politics, business and civil society. Even global car producers are becoming part of the new sharing culture and seriously considering themselves as selling mobility instead of cars.

Where does this social change come from? Why is ‘sharing’ an appealing idea? Can we expect a new mobility regime and growing markets for ‘sharing mobilities’? Or is this just a new fashion, a new trend, or furthermore, greenwashing? Does it provide the access that Rifkin was foreseeing, in terms of more equality, or even sustainable mobilities?

For the Cosmobilities Network, the biggest European mobility research network, it is about time for a critical scientific investigation of this topic. Therefore, the 12th Cosmobilities Conference invites contributions on the following questions:

• What are the social, ecological, cultural and aesthetic dimensions that generate this resonance of ‘sharing mobilities’?

• Are we observing the birth of a culture of multimobility, of changing (auto-) motive emotions and of sustainable mobilities?

• What are the socio-political implications of a new mobility culture?

• Is the hype on sharing mobilities just an expression of the pursuit of big business and the next phase of capitalist development?

• Are new mobilities arising as a ‘common good’? Or rather as a social and cultural resource in a cosmopolitan world full of social, ecological, economic and cultural risks?

• What does ‘sharing mobilities’ mean against the background of global migration and tourism flows and what is its impact on networked urban mobilities?

The 12th Conference of the Cosmobilities Network invites contributions which focus on the social, cultural, spatial, ecological and socio-economic consequences of new sharing concepts. Papers and contributions elaborating aspects of their related risks, chances, utopias and dystopias are in particular welcome.

The Cosmobilities Network encourages scholars and practitioners to present and discuss theoretical, conceptual, empirical and applied work as well as perspectives on the past, present and future of sharing mobilities. Cosmobilities conferences aim to foster inspiring, creative and thought-provoking environments. The majority of sessions will foster exchange and discussion. Therefore, we especially encourage participants to submit abstracts for the 7/7 and the panel sessions.

New journal out: Applied Mobilities

New journal out: Applied Mobilities

We are very proud to announce the first issue of our new journal Applied Mobilities – A journal of planning, design, technology and culture co-edited by Malene Freudendal-Pedersen, Kevin Hannam & Sven Kesselring. The first issue is available for free at .

“The journal Applied Mobilities has been launched to address this field of contradictions and ambivalences concerning the benefits and risks of mobilities. With a focus on applied perspectives, our aim is to utilize the connections between the theoretical and the empirical to highlight, emphasize and develop a greater understanding of the transition of mobility systems towards sustainable practices and the socio-political consequences of diverse mobilities. The mobilities field is trans-disciplinary by nature, and Applied Mobilities seeks to reach out to praxis and demonstrate how a deeper understanding of current social, economic, political and environmental issues provides opportunities to shape future sustainable mobilities. (Freudendal-Pedersen, Kesselring & Hannam 2016)”

1st of April, we launched the new ‘Applied Mobilities’ journal at the AAG conference in San Francisco ( Jonathan Manley and Zoe Brooke from Taylor and Francis invited us and about 50 people from the conference for a very nice reception. Jonathan opened the launch by saying that he wishes Applied Mobilities the same big success as Mobilities, which is one if the strongest Routledge journals. Mimi Sheller, co-editor of Mobilities, said some very nice words to commemorate the late John Urry and we gave him our biggest tribute. 

We are very happy about this new journal and the great collaboration with Taylor & Francis/Routledge. This new journal is a great opportunity to move on with the mobilities turn and to demonstrate that social science based mobility research has a strong contribution to the future of modern societies. We are looking forward to many excellent and exciting submissions in the near future!

Please, inform your librarians about this new journal which is closely working together with the Mobilities journal at Routledge and which can be subscribed as a package.

Help us to make Applied Mobilities a new strong voice in mobilities research!

First issue of Applied Mobilities

First issue of Applied Mobilities

Launch of journal reception

Remembering John Urry

Remembering John Urry

Dear all,

This is by far the worst email that ever went through this mailing list. As you have heard already our highly esteemed colleague, friend and mentor John Urry passed away last Friday the 18th of March. We are still shocked, saddened and somehow paralyzed by this news. We knew John as a highly dynamic person, agile and full of plans, projects and books for another 70 years of his lifespan.

Without any exaggeration Cosmobilities wouldn’t exist without John Urry’s scientific work but also his incredible capacities of building networks, maintaining friendships, social relations in general and initiating collaboration, research, publications, conferences and so forth. His decent character, wonderful sense of humor and his brilliant mind turned work meetings, scientific discussions, writing and even organisational work into a joyful activity.

To be honest, we do not have the right words to express what a loss he is for us – personally, for the network, the scientific community and the future of mobilities research. But trust us it is a great and very sad loss.
We and the whole board of the Cosmobilities Network send our deepest and warmest condolences to his family and close friends.

Next week at the AAG in San Francisco we wanted to celebrate the launch of a new journal – Applied Mobilities – with him. We will do this anyway, this all the more because he would have hated it not to happen, because of him. And also, because this is the way how we as scientists can give him all the honor and the appreciation that he deserves. Also this journal is standing on his shoulders! And again, we do not exaggerate at all. We will miss him there a lot and in the future and John will be very present when we will raise the glasses next week.

Malene and Sven


The Future of Mobilities Studies? Insights from Caserta

The Future of Mobilities Studies? Insights from Caserta

By Katharine Manderscheid and Anna Lipphart

As mobility scholars and board member of Cosmobilities Network (Katharina Manderscheid) and T2 (Anna Lipphardt, who is also a member of the EASA AnthroMob Network), we have been engaged over the past years in intense conversations with each other on the differences, the common ground and the potential synergies between the three research networks. The joint conference in Caserta (September 2015) provided a great opportunity to open up this conversation by initiating a broader cross-disciplinary and inter-generational discussion on visions, questions and suggestions for the future development of the interdisciplinary field of Mobilities Studies.

In this T2M newsletter we have written a short note about their insights from the Open Space Session conversations on the future directions of the mobilities studies

Photographer: Dorte Fjalland (

Photographer: Dorte Fjalland (