Mobility, mobilities and immobility: what’s in the name?

As a concept, mobility nicely captures the common impression that our lifeworld is in constant flux, with people circulating across the planet. The scholarly literature is replete with metaphors attempting to describe (perceived) altered spatial and temporal movements. Figures of mobile people, too, including the nomad, the pedestrian, the flâneur, the pilgrim, the tourist and the exile, have been used to describe both self and other in the social sciences and humanities for a long time. Such figures act as a conceptual shorthand in contemporary scholarly debates, allowing social theorists to relate broad-scale phenomena to the human condition. Taking the societal implications of various forms of mobility and immobility seriously and not as a given, the critical discussion of people ‘on the move’ during this lecture will help us to figure out the analytical purchase of the conceptual perspective of mobility studies to normalize movement within the single category of ‘mobility’.

Noel B. Salazar obtained his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) and is currently Research Professor in Anthropology, Coordinator of the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Centre (IMMRC), and Founder of the Cultural Mobilities Research (CuMoRe) cluster at KU Leuven. His research interests include anthropologies of mobility and travel, the local-to-global nexus, discourses and imaginaries of Otherness, heritage and interpretation, cultural brokering, cosmopolitanism, and endurance locomotion. Salazar is editor of the Worlds in Motion (Berghahn) book series and of Methodologies of Mobility (2017, Berghahn), Mega-event Mobilities (2016, Routledge), Regimes of Mobility (2014, Routledge) and Tourism Imaginaries (2014, Berghahn), and author of Momentous Mobilities (2018, Berghahn), Envisioning Eden (2010, Berghahn) and numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.