Accepted Paper:

A country on wheels  

Author:

Andre Novoa (Institute of Social Sciences (University of Lisbon))

Paper short abstract:

This presentation has two moments: first, I present a number of insights from a broader ethnographic study focused on the mobile lives of Portuguese lorry drivers within and across the European Union; these findings are then worked to explain a number of theoretical and conceptual traits of mobility.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation, I start off by presenting a number of insights from a broader ethnographic study focused on the mobile lives of Portuguese lorry drivers within and across the European Union. The pivotal argument is that national identities and belongings are not exclusively linked with roots but also with routes. Mobility, instead of eroding feelings of national belonging, may contain a special potential for enhancing and even amplifying them on some circumstances. Through a case study of mobile ethnography with Portuguese lorry drivers across Europe, I provide an example of this phenomenon, coming to the conclusion that these individuals, rather than culturally transposing barriers, live their professional lives in a kind of nationalised nutshell on wheels.

These findings are then worked to explain a number of theoretical and conceptual traits of mobility. Particularly in the last quarter of the 20th century, mobility (and movement) appeared as a metonym for transgression, hybridism, cosmopolitanism, networking and fluidity, perhaps due to an overall epoch of optimism. But, mobility is much more than that. Dynamics and practices of mobility equally contain logics of enclosure, em-bordering, encapsulation, differentiation or inequality. Indeed, the generalised curbing of enthusiasm after the turn of the century reinforces this notion, with incidents such as 9/11, the financial crisis, and so forth, contributing to new takes and visions on mobility. Mobility should not, thus, be essentialised. It is a process. Indeed, mobilities are produced (Cresswell 2006), alongside social class, race, ethnicity and belongings.

Panel RM-CPV04
Moving and moving again: embodied identifications along multiple trajectories