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Event Details

Beyond informality: a critical study of mobility infrastructures

Start date : 23 July 2024 09:00
Date de fin : 26 July 2024 17:00
Where : Barcelona
Hosted by : Marta Contijoch-Torres (Universitat de Barcelona) Manuel Ramos (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)

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Short Abstract:

This panel seeks contributions that juxtapose the logistical dynamics involved in the implementation of new urban mobilities with the social experiences they aim to impact, with the objective of understanding the global development of relations between the "formal" and the "informal". Long Abstract:

The study of mobility infrastructures in anthropology aims to unveil the intricate ways in which urban transportation systems produce narratives encompassing globalization, pledges of future connectivity, and tangible materialities within specific temporal and spatial contexts. The exploration of this new paradigm of mobility enables us to study specific infrastructures, institutions, and planning models alongside the material and social relationships they encompass, linking them to various domains and scales. This entails a recognition of how mobility plans, projects, and facilities are frequently overwhelmed by unforeseen uses, needs, appropriations, and alternative practices.

Our proposed panel assumes the comparability and resonance of these overflow processes. We are thus looking at contributions that, in different contexts, juxtapose the logistical dynamics involved in implementing new urban mobilities with the social experiences they propose to impact, with the goal of understanding the global unfolding of relationships between two often presumed segregated realms—the 'formal' and the 'informal.' We aim to debate how these dynamics reflect diverse and multifaceted processes of neoliberalization, conditioned by local institutional, political, economic, urban, and public service settings. We further assume that the notion of "informality" warrants examination and analysis as a concept that legitimizes specific, often abusive, and exclusionary actions. We expect that contributors agree to discuss this problematic notion, beyond its role as an analytical category.


For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.

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