This is the current theme of Wesleyan's Humanities Center.  To add to all the many "turns" we have heard about, there is now a "mobility turn":


Over the past decade, a new approach to the study of mobilities has emerged involving research on the combined movement of peoples, animals, objects, ideas, and information. This can be viewed through the lens of complex networks, relational dynamics, and the redistribution or reification of power generated by movement.  But despite the emphasis on movement, this “mobility turn” must be viewed in the light of the relationships between mobilities and associated immobilities:  borders as well as border crossings, isolation as well as connectivity, disability as well as ability. It thus encompasses both the embodied practice of movement and the representations, ideologies, and meanings attached to the mobile and immobile.... (click here for the full description)

Of course we've already made the turn with our constellation mobility/exchange and Itinera in particular.  But I wanted to add a couple of notes to this topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  

One is that art history overwhelmingly privileges sedentary societies and non-mobile populations.  "Art" and "architecture" do tend to serve the needs of sedentary states and institutions. The distinction between center and periphery only makes sense in a world that assumes the sedentary as the norm.  Our own Kathy Linduff, who works on exchange between mobile and sedentary societies in ancient China, is one of the very few who does not think in this "sendetarinormative" way. (I believe I have just coined a new jargon term.)  

The other idea I have been revolving is the notion that in the sedentary world of territorial states and civilizations, art is used often to defeat mobility, or dishonor it, or deny it.  My cemetery project is making me think about how the nation-state fixes dead soldiers in place, as a response to their tragic dislocations in life.  Out of the terrible flux of their wartime experiences, the national cemetery creates a monumental arrangement of graves and names that is supposed to be static, unchanging, and hence honorific.

  • Research Groups
  • Agency
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  • Mobility/Exchange
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Brand new publication in

Itinera is, in fact,

Itinera is, in fact, receiving a shot in the arm today as we are being visited by none other than the developer of CollectiveAccess, Seth Kaufman. The system is getting a few upgrades and the lab is atwitter with thinking about how HARD it is to represent movement in a computer.

It has indeed asked us all to think about our own "sedetarinormative" leanings...