'Connecting Mobilities Research between the UK and South Korea: narrating, mobilizing, experimenting and engaging mobilities for just futures'

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Geography


The UK has become a global leader in mobilities research, an interdisciplinary research field spanning the disciplines of human geography, sociology, history, literary and cultural studies, and transport studies, and addressing such topics as mobility and transport history, embodied mobile performance practices, religious practice and pilgrimage, migration, refugee and diaspora studies, and tourism. In doing so it considers the circulation of objects, texts, ideas, plants, music, and the uneven movements and stoppages of human and animal bodies. Crucially, then, mobilities research is always more than a simple mapping of movements, but rather is an examination of the uneven and unequal ways mobility and immobility shape human and non-human experiences.
Mobilities research tackles some of the key and interlocking challenges our world faces, such as decarbonizing and decolonizing our social worlds (including the academy), and the pursuit of research that seeks to examine, imagine and lead towards forms of movement that are both socially and environmentally just, what some have called 'mobility justice' (Sheller 2018).

Since the early 2000s, mobilities research has orbited around several key centres and institutes such as the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University (founded in 2003), key journals - such as Mobilities. A new subfield of 'Mobility Humanities' is emerging, coined by Pearce and Merriman (2017), which has invigorated mobility research attentive to the arts and humanities, for example in the role and representation of mobility in literature and other creative forms of expression, and through more historical viewpoints and lenses, including the history of science and circulations of knowledge of objects. This has inspired the South Korea's Ministry of Education to fund the Academy of Mobility Humanities at Konkuk University (AMH). The AMH is itself playing a leading role in cultivating mobility humanities research globally, and especially in South and East Asia. And yet, the full potential of mobility humanities, especially methods of creative and arts practices, and of public engagement, are still to be elaborated. This is especially in the context of the rise of global concerns with mobility justice as they pertain to inequalities of movement and social inclusion, to environmental change in the context of global heating, and to security in the context of human and things moving across borders. Preliminary discussions between researchers have demonstrated the rich potential of humanities-led interdisciplinary research approaches that include creative arts-based research methods, and the possibilities of public-engagement for raising issues of, and intervening within, mobilities justice.

This research programme will fund a series of collaborations, events, partnerships, outputs, outreach activities, and future potential research grants between UK research centres, the AMH, and its networks of South Korean and Asian researchers, in order to cultivate different connections around mobility and the humanities. A programme of connective activities, facilitated by AMH provided translators and substantive 'in kind' support (see Case for Support, Justification of Resources and Letter of Support), will include network building, shared conferences and workshops, a Winter school for early career scholars and post-graduates, staff exchanges, and joint publications. The connecting activities will build familiarity, structures and research capacity for future collaborations and research bids.


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