GEOG 261 – WEEK 4 - MOBILITY 9/25/2012 8:32:00 AM
Pic of new york – idea of flow: ppl moving about, flow of info, physical flows
of cars, the idea of flow also shapes the city in many ways. The kinds of
flows shape the city. The idea that you can read the city – it’s a text.
Mobility is central to the urban landscape as well as to our undertanding of
** the idea of mobility is coming in exam **
In this course, mobility is a complex assemblage (comes from the French
word – something that is assembled and drives substanance from that
assemble). It involved movements (bodies and things) in space, flows, and
connections that interact at points and have effects on the urban landscape.
Mobility is not just movement of ppl or things, there’s also the element of
flow, of movement. Dynamic flows and interactions and how that flow
shapes the urban landscape.
Mobility has both positive and negative aspects. It can be productive as well
as deeply problematic.
Furthermore, mobility can be a contested practice. It is a site upon which
societal values, moraility and institutional regimes of regulation play out.
Freedom is embedded in the idea of mobility. It also has problematic aspects
to it. There’s an element of mobility that is contested.
Henri Lefebvre pointed out that even a house (which is essentially a static
entity) is enabled by flows of light, electricity, water, sewage, systems and
so forth (Lefebvre)
In the same vein, cities are created and enabled by various mobile forms
and practices. This reality tends to be taken for granted, however. Think about the various things that enable movement in a transit system –
train tracks, infrastructure etc. Think about when the evergreen is launched
and how it’s going to shape the physical environment and social
Mobility has always been a source of intrigue for urban geographers.
Although the focus on mobility has undergone various mutations brought on
by various analytical approaches, there was a common thematic angle in the
20‟s and 30‟s when Chicago school scholars approached the American
industrial metropolis in terms of ideas of movement and mobility.
Building on the work of German philospher Georg Simmel, the leading
Chacago school figures (including burgess, park, mckenzie, wirth) regarded
mobility as a part and parcel of the “urban metabolism”, integral to its
Burgess suggested that mobility was the „pulse of community‟
Following Simmel, the Chicago school underscored the extent to which
“the life of the modern metropolis was defined in all sorts of ways by the
circulation of ppl and info within and beyond the metropolis” (Latham, 2009:
The Chicago school also considered the itinerant lives of homeless ppl,
gangs, prostitutes, migrants, and others.
With its waves of immigrants, growing industries, high unemployment levels,
and urban blight Chicago became a lab for studying human movement in
Think about Chicago in 20’s and 30’s (al capone movie public enemies,
untouchables) very violent city at the time and lots of unrest. Flows of citizens coming in the city, all things that created various flows of human
Chicago school scholars were quick to point out the inherent dangers of
Burgess associated excessive mobility with urban degeneration in that it
undermined proper functioning of the city as a social organism. (burgess)
Likewise, park, cautioned that the ability to move freely and unhindered was
a recipe for selfishness and alienation from society,
The idea that too much mobility was a recipe for disaster
Contemporary urban geographers have gone a step further than the Chicago
school to open up new ways of thinking about mobility and urban life.
Recent approaches show greater conceptual sophistication and are aimed at
drawing attention to the importance of mobility in the constitution of the
This approach, influenced by the „mobilities turn‟ or „mobilities paradigm‟ in
geography and the social sciences, has emerged within the last decade
Mobility actually contributes to the production of the city: relationship btwn
perceived, conceived and lived space. Think about a city existence without
movement . . . the city would be dead. Think of the points when mobility
and materiality connect – think of the ghost towns in northern California
when flows of capital left the city and with it flows of people went. 9/25/2012 8:32:00 AM
Seen in urban context, mobilities thinking concerns not only physical
movment, but also flows and interaction in space, connections and
disconnections, immobilization, and ways of relating with the physical
and social environment of cities.
Think if you can’t move around the city – how will your concept of the city
Drawing on Hneri Lefebvre‟s work on „rhythmanalysis’ (2004), urban
scholars in geog and other fields also suggest that bodies and objets shape
cities through their everyday rhythms of movement,
The contemporary approach to mobility has also paid closer attention the
agencies (infrastructures, processes, embodies practices, etc) that facilitate
(or disable) urban mobility.
Mobility study scholars also connect the idea of mobililty to time. They say
time moves fast when things are happened but when less stuff happens time
seems to move slow. There’s also been a move to look at the connection
between agency and the constitution of mobility and how agency could
enable or disable mobility.
Cities cant be disentangled from the networks of movement and connections
that go on within them, particularly the movement of ppl and things.
The movement of ppl and things within within urban contexts is enabled by
transportation devises such as roads, streets, bus stops, highways, airports,
waterways, cars, bicycles, trains, etc.
Think about the pace of mobility in diff cities. In some cities ppl move a lot
fasters than other cities and it could be an effect of the level of competition
– think about Lefebvre’s idea of a cities rhythm. The connection btwn time
and space and how that shapes the flows. The City & Waterways
Many early cities around the world developed around water bodies like rivers, ;akes and
Evenetually, many of them went on to become major trading routes as they interacted with
and were shaped by ppl and things.
Ppl began to move to places, ie. Vancouver settled on the basis of trade. Eventually more and
more ppl started to come into Vancouver and shaped the city.
London, for instance, has been an important trade and transportaton route since
Its geographical position allowed it to function as a trading center for goods like tea, spices,
fish, wood, cotton brought up the river thames by boat from various parts of the world.
It didn’t just bring trade but also ppl. Think about the things that led to the industrial
revolution >> how londons geogrphic position placed it at a node
Think of material infrastructues that are a part of a city like a bridge that is