Flying Boat

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Flying Boat

The Empire Flying Boat was a short-lived air service connecting Great Britain with its colonies in operation from 1937 to 1940 and for a short period post war. It offered fast (for the time) passenger travel and mail services following sea routes to Africa, the Far East, and Australia. The “Flying Boat” represented a desired mobility for 48 weekly passengers that was ahead of its time, yet unrecognisable to recent contemporary mobility. And yet the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has changed global mobility and aviation in ways yet to unfold.

“Flying Boat” is a GeoHumanities project concerned with the spatial and mobile imaginary enacted by this service projected into this uncertain time for aviation. How did the ‘Flying Boat’ frame its contribution to the mobility of people and goods as a government supported, commercial enterprise? Working with an artist, this framing will be speculatively projected into the future. The material and operational practices of the ” Flying Boat” will be explored in a world of carbon scarcity, climate change, global pandemics and aviation downsizing. This study will be limited to one route; London to Hong Kong, in 2019 the third busiest (seat/km) and still operational despite the 95% reduction in global air traffic by April 2020. Apart from the climate considerations, political and epidemiological rationales may will require a drastic reduction in mobilities; the rationed and slow mobility of the “Empire Flying Boat” is a possible norm in times to come.

Working with an artist will enable the strands of this enterprise – past, present future. Ideas of imaginary projection; speculation; the forging of relationships between spatial practices and their social assumption; this is the territory of the “Flying Boat” project. Projecting the visual representation of this route of spatial dissolution into the future brings a degree of comparative reality to the social consequences of unchecked mobility and climate change.

Steve Connolly, April 2020

 

Team:
Stephen Connolly
Lecturer in Film
University for the Creative Arts
e: stephen.connolly@uca.ac.uk

Layla Curtis
Artist
www.laylacurtis.com
e: info@laylacurtis.com

Flying Boat over Heathrow 2019
UK-World-Airways-2060

The Former State Project

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

The Former State Project

What remains of a former state? To answer this question, a geographer, filmmaker and poet follow the route of a six-week ethnographic journey taken in 1937 by British author Rebecca West (1892–1983) through Yugoslavia. Following West’s thousand-page travel-book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941) our aim is to document what remains of Yugoslavia, creating the first film about West and a travel-guide to a country that no longer exists. This project arrives at a time when Yugoslavia remains within living memory and it captures small details and intimate memories of the former state before they are lost. Yugoslavia is remembered differently across the territorial space of the former state and this project provides a comparative study of the seven new states that stand where Yugoslavia once stood. Employing a multi-media, multi-disciplinary approach in the region, it performs a novel yet critical engagement with the geo-humanities and the new mobilities paradigm.

Team:
Jack Wake-Walker
Simon Barraclough
James Riding, Newcastle University


Pearls From China

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Pearls From China

Pearls from China explores routes and types of goods that have characterized the first migratory flow from China to Europe.

Pearls from China is a collaborative project between Ciaj Rocchi, Matteo Demonte and Daniele Brigadoi-Cologna. It is focused on the movement of Objects – fake pearls – but it is also strongly related to the movement of People: in particular, from the rural districts in the hinterland of Wenzhou to many countries in Northern, Central and Southern Europe.

The aim of this collaboration is to further understand how, in the Twenties of the last century, the trade of these fake pearls helped to set the course for the most important migration flow from continental China to Europe. The collaboration will document the beginning of this phenomenon with an animated short documentary.

Although extant archival sources and the relevant scientific literature in the field of migration studies have shed some light on the origins of the Zhejiang migration to Europe, many details remain unclear, like: the intermediaries in Shanghai, the importers in France, the routes that spanned the Eurasian continent and connected China to several European capitals and seaports.

Team:
Daniele Brigadoi Cologna, Insubria University
Matteo Demonte
Ciaj Rocchi


Of steel and (un)stillness

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Of Steel and (un)stillness

Of steel and (un)stillness explores routiers’ social, cultural and material worlds through ethnographic and artistic practices. Routiers are men of African origin that recurrently drive old vehicles from Southern Europe to West Africa carrying with them spare parts, clothing, money remittances, bicycles, appliances, cosmetics, rice, personal luggage, etc. that are delivered, traded and/or bartered along the way. The uses and meanings of carried items lay beyond the mere functional and utilitarian approaches, or monetary value. All the exchanges and (dis)encounters generated by them are culturally located and play an essential role in the production of social relations and of social recognition while in mobility.

Of steel and (un)stillness consists of a kinetic installation that creates a peculiar soundscape, and an audiovisual installation. These pieces metaphorically invoke the transient and cyclical repetition of a polysemic web of floating spaces, places, people, practices, and objects. The resulting assemblages will be affective, speculative and layered with (re)significations.

Of steel and (un)stillness results from the collaboration between two anthropologists and filmmakers (Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa, and Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL) and an artist (Paulo Morais), and is embedded in a wider research and documentary film endeavor currently in post-production (http://yoon-film.com)

Team:
Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa
Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL
Paulo Morais


 


Mobility from a cultural perspective: connections between cultural histories, cultural geographies and literary studies

Mobility from a cultural perspective: connections between cultural histories, cultural geographies and literary studies

Project in collaboration with the CRPM (Centre de recherches pluridisciplinaires et multilingues), Université Paris Nanterre, projet ‘Espace, Déplacement, Mobilité’ (responsables Adrien Frenay and Lucia Quaquarelli)

In their recent delineation of the new subfield of Mobility and the Humanities, Merriman and Pearce (2017) focused on the specific contributions that a humanistic perspective can bring to the well-established field of mobility studies. First, the Humanities allow the exploration of the experience of mobility in addition to the factual movement of people, objects and ideas; second, they introduce a historical perspective, stressing the temporal dimension of mobility processes and practices; third, the Humanities work with texts and representations; forth, they are particularly capable of generating theoretical possibilities for the interpretation of mobility in its nuanced variations. Merriman and Pearce (2017) also underline the need to rediscover the alternative genealogies that offered early or implicit theorisation of mobility in the humanistic field. This project uses what Bal (2002) called a ‘concept based methodology’ to study ‘travelling concepts’ in the Humanities to propose a mobility-based methodology for fields such as cultural history, cultural geography and literary studies (but also visual and classical studies). The temporal frame extends from antiquity to the present and to possible futures. The mobility of people and objects, of ideas and cultural products, as well the contexts and the infrastructures hosting these mobilities may be captured from research angles that help not only to explore the meanings of movement but also to reimagine mobility studies from a humanistic and cultural perspective. How does the evocative concept of mobility impact our intellectual creativity? What is the potential of this concept to generate transdisciplinary and transmedial nexuses? If movement becomes mobility when it ceases to be factual evidence and becomes practice and discourse, experience and meaning (Cresswell, 2010), what are the different nuances of mobility in past, present and future times?

The project includes a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the University of Padova and the CRPM at the Université Paris Nanterre, networking activities, meetings and seminars, a joint conference, and the publication of an edited collection.

Coordinated at DiSSGeA by:

Tania Rossetto

Carlotta Sorba

Giada Peterle


MAPFLY project: cartographic WebGIS of the University of Padova

MAPFLY project: cartographic WebGIS of the University of Padova (co-financing)

The Mobility & Humanities Project of Excellence is a co-funder of the ongoing MAPFLY project, led by the Department of Geosciences and aimed at providing the University of Padova with new technological infrastructures to access, visualise and navigate the massive volume of historical map collections stored in several departments of the University. These cartographic collections are distributed over various libraries (in particular the Geography, Geosciences and Engineering libraries). Currently, these materials are not accessible via WebGIS platforms. Therefore, the project aims to provide the University with new dynamic tools to enhance the usability of the collections for topological queries (digitalization, archiving, implementation  of the web platform based on ArcGIS). This mobilisation of the cartographic heritage and knowledge of our University, scheduled for 2021, is critical to the Mobility & Humanities Project. Not only can the factual movements of people or materials be more effectively traced on historical and recent maps but also the cartographic heritage and knowledge of our University can be incorporated into new research and communication practices with the extra-academic audience through the public engagement’s initiatives promoted by the Museum of Geography.


Communities in the Early Middle Ages

Communities in the Early Middle Ages

Project in partnership with ECOLE FRANÇAISE DE ROME (COMMUNAUTES. À la recherche des communautés du Haut Moyen Âge : formes, pratiques, interactions - VIe-XIe siècles; P.I. Geneviève Buhrer Thierry, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and Maria Cristina La Rocca, Università di Padova, DISSGeA)

“Communities in the Early Middle Ages” is a five-years research project financed by the Ecole Française de Rome (2018-2022). It focuses its attention on small communities that are based on common practices on a local or regional scale, looking for their constituent elements. The exogenous notion of community makes it possible to orient our research not towards its essence, but towards the modalities of its implementation (i. e. through the lived space, collective memories, circulation and mobility through space) and to assess if the expression of its identity is conscious or if it is instead created or manipulated by an outside agent (i.e. group of people paying the same tax, or having to fight together).

Recent historiography reveals two main strands of research: the first one is interested in identifying the formation of religious communities within society; the second is interested in the process of  the institutionalization of communities. If communities never represent moral persons before the 12th century, nevertheless certain historians do not hesitate to define communities certain villages or group of villages from the Early Middle Ages, in relation to the territory and the emergence of the seigneurial lordship. W. Davies uses the concept of community territory to emphasize the fact that peasant ownership is not a series of isolates plots but constitutes a network of interrelations.

The scientific interest of such a study is based on the discussion of concepts from the social sciences such as the flexible notion of community of practice (E. Wenger): the members of a community are gradually trained through their participation more and more complete with the group activities. Their interactions with experienced members gradually transform them into full members, capable in turn of forming new members. We will also consider the modes of construction but also of dissolution/destruction of communities: construction by the norm, by processes of exclusion and inclusion, by the constitution of a hierarchy. Finally, we will tackle the crucial question of ideal communities: the study of the discourses that legitimize the community will shed light on the way it represents itself, reproduces itself, transmits its own memory and guides the construction of the identities of the subjects that compose it.

The project has brought together several conferences, which are currently being published by Brepols editions (Collection Haut Moyen Age).

Participants at Dissgea:

Maria Cristina La Rocca (P.I.)

Gianmarco De Angelis

Giulia Zornetta


Landscapes of Human Mobilities

Landscapes of Human Mobilities

Postdoctoral project supervised by Benedetta Castiglioni

Laura Lo Presti

Addressing the contemporary European migration crisis from the vantage point of its maps, this research project explores the mediated landscape of institutional, mass-media, artistic, and mobile mappings that concern migration and cultural diversity issues. Drawing from fields of mobility studies, visual culture studies, and post-representational map studies, this interdisciplinary work reflects on the cultural and affective ecologies and the technological and political digitalities through which cartographic images represent and perform the condition of im/mobility experienced by migrant subjects. Adopting digital ethnography and visual analysis of cartographic media content, the project pays particular attention to the many unpredictable ways in which maps, as visual landscapes of human mobilities, elicit and embody a plethora of discourses, actions, and feelings about the migration crisis, its forms of hierarchized mobilities, and alternative imaginings of solidarity and hospitality.


Can Refugees Save the World? Post-Development Approaches to livelihood from Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

Can Refugees Save the World? Post-Development Approaches to livelihood from Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

PhD project supervised by Paola Minoia

Yafa El Masri

Despite the diaspora, refugee communities carry the responsibility of protecting and reviving their heritage beliefs of hope and good throughout years of exile. Based on their heritage, Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon are resisting the global capitalistic system by replacing humanitarian development aid and market activities with post-development concepts based on cooperation values. This research explores how such local values constitute post-development and decolonial alternatives to international development schemes. In these camps, several volunteer initiatives have emerged as an attempt to redistribute any resources and skills among refugees for the collective benefits of camps dwellers. Therefore, this research sheds light on refugee economies who focus on non-market activities oriented towards Convivalism (the philosophy of living together) to generate overall social well-being. Thus, this research works towards documenting the experience of the Palestinian refugees and sharing its lessons with the reform-seeking world. The final questions would not only discuss how are the innovative post-development approaches involved in creating livelihood in Palestinian refugee camps, but also: How are these approaches produced in Palestinian refugee camps? Can they be transported to other communities to form new models for livelihood? “Another world is possible”, claimed the Motto of the First World Social Forum held in Brazil in 2001, and possibly another world is even necessary. Along these lines, can refugee camps change the world?