Accepted Paper:

The politics of mobility: ideology and instrumentality  


Fabian Frenzel (University of the West of England)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper ideological notions of mobility are contrasted with the instrumental use of it by social movements and particularly in protest camps. Particularly the making of the encampments themselves is reflected as a political practice displaying dialectic of mobility and stasis.

Paper long abstract:

Metaphors of movement are ubiquitous in the language of politics and the relation of mobility and stasis is a central symbolic theme of political theory. In recent years critical political theory has extensively employed concepts of mobility and mobile subjects to theorize resistance against neoliberal globalization. At the same time affirmative notions of mobility were equally central to neoliberal ideology that has elaborated the rejection of national borders to international trade in the name of globalization. Mobility in neoliberal ideology is moreover a normative injunction for the individual, expected to possess international experience or flexibility to move.

While ideologies of mobility remain ambiguous to say the least, the ethnographic study of the use of mobility in political practices might offer a more grounded approach to discuss the politics of mobility. In the realm of collective action, from demonstrations to protest camps, from rallies to blockades, mobilities are techniques of protest, instrumental to campaigns and to symbolic and direct interventions.

Drawing from fieldwork in political encampments like the Camp for Climate Action and other Protest Camps this paper interrogates in particular the political mobilities of the camp.

Panel IW01
Mobility: frictions and flows