Embodying Mobile Methods

people walking on a train station

As a part of the 10 year anniversary of the Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, the MML has been asked to contribute to the “Mobility Futures Conference.”

Laurence Parent and Kim Sawchuk are traveling together, using the conference as an opportunity to reflect on what it means to travel in a wheelchair and without a wheelchair. Inspired by the challenge of how we might make our methods commensurate with the theme of the conference, we will use our journey together to generate new research.

A  research blog will allow us to documents the voyage, and post images as well as the audio interviews we have scheduled with disability rights and transportation activists.

Our research paper, in process explores  the potential intersection between mobility studies and critical disability studies, and will be presented as a part of this exciting conference line-up.

Embodying Mobile Methods: critical disability studies and mobility studies: (abstract)

Our argument, in the paper,  is structured into three separate, yet inter-related sections: first, we will provide an overview of how the concept of mobility  appears within critical disability studies and how disability appears within research that specifically allies itself with mobility studies as an emergent field.  Here our primary focus will be on journal articles from the top-ranked journals in the field, including “Mobilities” and “Disability Studies”. As a preliminary investigation indicates, while discussions of the politics of movement is primary to mobility studies self-definition and embodiment is central to understanding relations of power within the field of mobility studies, mobilities studies (to date) has not engaged with critical disabilities research. Mobility, on the other hand is a frequent and recurrent term with critical disability studies. In the second section, we discuss why we think a conversation between these fields might enhance and enrich the other. In this section, we explore one point of connection,  ‘mobile methods,’ drawing upon our experience of traveling together to Future Mobilities as an example that we will unravel.  Our third and final section will mention some of the projects we are in the midst of producing at the Mobile Media Lab to (creatively) instigate this intellectual and political conversation between mobility studies and critical disability studies. We end this final point of reflection with a brief word on the cross-over between disability rights advocacy and recent research on “mobility justice” to return to the question on ‘the body politic’ that opens the paper.