The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities

Routes Less Travelled

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  • Edited by Phillip Vannini, Royal Roads University, Canada
  • The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities presents a series of ethnographic studies, focusing on the local cultures of mobilities and immobilities, emphasizing the everyday sense of contingency and heterogeneity that accompanies them. Compensating for the excess of theory and criticism based on the notion of 'hypermobilities', this book sheds light on the nuanced differences and idiosyncrasies of mobility, with a view to rediscovering meanings and lifestyles marked by movement and immobility.

    Original, empirical and global case studies are presented by an international team of scholars, exploring the complex, negotiated and contingent nature of the social worlds of movement. By avoiding sweeping generalizations on the deeply connected and readily mobile nature of society as a whole, this volume sheds light on the diversity of mobility modes in an accessible and interdisciplinary form that will be of key interest, to sociologists, geographers and scholars of human mobility, communication and culture.
  • Contents: Foreword: mobilities as culture, Ole B. Jensen; The cultures of alternative mobilities, Phillip Vannini; Part 1 Performing Space and Time: Paddle and portage: the travail of BWCA canoe travel, Dennis D. Waskul and Michele E. Waskul; Walking and sitting in Australian Antarctic Territory: mobility and imperial space, Christy Collis; Moving with others: the sociality of the railway journey, David Bissell; The view from the air: the cultural geographies of flight, Lucy Budd; The making of mundane bus journeys, Juliet Jain. Part 2 Mobile Biographies, Identities, and Lifestyles: Dear Diary: auto/biography, respect, and mobility, Gayle Letherby and Jon Shaw; Immobile mobility in daily travelling experiences in Santiago de Chile, Paola Jirón; Mobility in later life: time, choice, and action, Lena Levin; Solitude at sea or social sailing? The constitution and perception of the cruising community, Martina Kleinert; Mobility as strategy, mobility as tactic: post-industrialism and bike messengers, Jeffrey L. Kidder. Part 3 The Materialities of Mobility: Wet and boisterous: the lumpy “romance” of commuting by boat, Roger Boshier; Cancelled, aborted, late, mechanical: the vagaries of air travel in Arviat, Nunavut, Canada, Lisa-Jo van den Scott; Mobility, ritual, and performance: an ethnography of parents', children's and youths' ferry boat travel, Phillip Vannini and April Vannini with Jacob Manson and Autumn Vannini; Coming of age in a time of motorcycles, Richard G. Mitchell Jr and Adele Kubein; Winslow – a city in motion, Janna Jones and Mark Neumann; Index.
  • About the Editor: Phillip Vannini is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, Canada
  • Reviews: 'Offbeat journeys - by rhythmic canoe, crowded mass transit, traffic-weaving bike, temperamental small boats and planes, stylized motorcycles and yachts - are poignantly brought to life, filled with sociability, anxiety, pleasure, danger, waiting and nostalgia. In the company of quirky companions, the game reader tags along into subcultures of transport, gleaning eccentric insights into routes less travelled, but all the more savoured.'
    Mimi Sheller, Drexel University, USA

    'This book assembles a selection of lively, rich and poetic depictions of mobility grounded in diverse case studies, providing a refreshing corrective to the over-concentration on car and aeroplane travel in mobilities research. By avoiding hyperbole which emphasises speed and placelessness, and focusing on the hitherto neglected mobilities of buses, boats and canoes, motorcycling and trains, this delightful collection significantly extends ideas about mobility.'
    Tim Edensor, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

    'This book, simply put, is amazing… accessible and outstanding. It would be a great textbook for undergraduate anthropology students interested in studying social anthropology research.'
    Anthropological Notebooks

    'This edited collection provides a significant contribution to the field of mobility Studies… the editor argues that a homogenous picture has been painted because of a hegemonic focus on automobility and aeromobility. Vannini's accomplishment is bringing together a collection that moves beyond these established themes, and that instead seeks out the 'creative marginalities of mobility' by focusing on the everyday plurality of modes, sites and practices… The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities presents a series of highly accessible and engaging ethnographic studies which all succeed to greater or lesser degree in rendering visible accounts of the trials and tribulations of 'alternative' travel… This publication is a significant contribution to the field and could be an important catalyst in generating a whole new area of critical mobilities thinking and studies of 'movement in the margins'.'
    Transport Reviews

    'The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities is more than just another book featuring the word mobilities in the title. It represents a significant and timely departure from the focus on aero, auto and virtual ‘hypermobility’ concerns that many consider has been the main contribution of this genre to the social sciences… The book also - and this is where its charm lies - gives many fascinating examples of alternative mobilities that make a clever counterpoint to MIT-informed rapid, virtual and hi-tech transport futures (so-called hypermobilities) that crowd around the genre… The collection of essays reassuringly avoids protracted navel-gazing about what culture is and instead gives interesting and empirical accounts of alternative mobilities ‘in the field’. The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities is a testament to the fact that ‘slow is the new fast’ in the mobilities genre and chimes well with issues of sustainability, inequality and immobility now fashionable as research subjects.'
    Qualitative Research

    'The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities consists of an inspiring array of essay-styled chapters, each focussing on specific perspectives of movement. The chapters are focused on three main parts that address flows and construction of space and time, personal travel experiences, and the role of materiality and technologies of mobility. Following the shift in social research into global/mobile/spatial turn, this publication strengthens the ideas of investigating the deeper social, historical and traditional experiences that shape travels… this collection can lead to understanding and rethinking various modes of alternative travel which may help reshape future philosophy when designing mobilities… The text is clear and easy to understand, particularly for postgraduate and research students… For future transport academics and professionals, this edition can provide an additional resource in the growing list of mobility studies. For current university instructors engaged in the field of people movement, this book will be an excellent reference about different characteristics of travel… For all, it will certainly present and alternative perspective on the mobility and accessibility needs beyond the accepted norms… certainly all of the chapters offer new insight into rethinking mobilities and can help in revealing categories that are not traditionally considered when analysing daily commutes or leisure travel.'
    Journal of Transport Geography

    '… the interesting and insightful tales contained within and the care and integrity of the storytelling ensure that these narratives provide a useful addendum to an ongoing movement in the literature. In the pursuit of routes less travelled, this book contributes towards the construction of a wider picture of global alternatives to the motor vehicle.'
    Social and Cultural Geography