Handbook of Mobilities – now, finally, published – some logistical thoughts.

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Another edited collection was published just before Christmas, the Handbook of Mobilities out with Routledge, co-edited by myself, David Bissell, Kevin Hannam, Peter Merriman and Mimi Sheller, after a very long time! It is interesting how these things come together. David and I had an initial conversation in St Pancras (appropriately) about 5-6 years ago before developing the project with Pete, and unaware that Kevin and Mimi were working on a similar idea. Andrew Mould and Emma Travis at Routledge put us together as a kind of ‘dream team’ (their words!) to edit the volume. Some of us first met in Washington at the AAG in 2010 (an AAG which underwent its own mobilities issues disrupted by the volcanic ash-cloud crisis) to discuss the structure and shape of the book. We then moved through the process, given the size and scope of the volume at a reasonable pace, commissioning, reading and editing the various chapters from a stellar group of contributors. All of this happened at a distance, in-fact the only time we’ve ever met together as a team in one place was at this year’s Global Conference on Mobility Futures at Lancaster!

Editing the chapters and developing the introduction and section introductions (the book is split into sections) was logistically a challenge, complicated between 5 editors. To do this we used Google docs and dropbox and other file sharing sites to store the project in a way that we could all see, and divided each section responsibility between 2 editors. The introductions were written initially on google docs before we moved into a word.doc. Some of these were conceived by email conversation, I met one of the other editors in Copenhagen to discuss the initial shape of the introduction while we were both there for the same conference. So the project emerged from a flow between traditional word processing and more shared-cloud type editing and storing. At the end of all this it required one of us to compile the whole thing into one document. This flow continued into the copyediting and proof stages where we would collate changes and snag lists regarding errors, rights that needed to be chased, image problems, in a shared space.

The book then emerged from a kind of network and hopefully the volume draws some out some important lines and flows into a wide range of disciplines and themes including, law, gender, technology, resources, war, tourism, visual culture, resources, cultural theory, transport, materiality (oil and carbon feature widely), temporality, policy, infrastructure, violence, migration, inequality, rhythm, and methods. It would be interesting to try to map the various locations contributors were writing both from and about as a way to see where mobility as a notion or approach is gaining traction, and the kinds of places and regions where it is being deployed.

The book has picked up some nice endorsements, Caren Kaplan wrote:

“The interdisciplinary field of mobility studies has expanded exponentially over the last years as the scholars included in this invaluable handbook have transformed the discussion of technology, transportation, communication, geography, and travel in the post-colonial context of war, globalization, and urbanization. This text offers a creative yet practical approach to the dynamic subjects and objects of a world of moving parts to provide insights into the terms and concepts of mobilities today.”

Pete Adey

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