Accepted paper:

Auto-stop ethnography

Author:

Patrick Laviolette (LIAS Leicester UCL)

Paper short abstract:

Inspired by several auto-ethnographic vignettes, this presentation explores hitch-hiking narratives, performances and experiences along stochastic roadscapes.

Paper long abstract:

With its origins grounded in certain impressionistic narratives of the open road, this presentation explores hitch-hiking. Through textual and audio-visual descriptions which are largely auto-ethnographic in character, it considers a number of poetic, political and performative themes related to the alternative modalities of experience involved in thumbing a ride. These include: alienation, dependence, fear, sociability, protest, time and mobility -- all relate to hitching in some way.

Everyday forms of car travel obviously structure many of our spatial perceptions and experiences. The aim here, however, is to question how breaks of convention, such as those which exist in hitching a lift, impact upon the sensing of place and the encounter with marginalised spaces of road networks. The search for a journey begins with the search for oneself and continues by seeking some artificially constructed form of voyaging solidarity. As a cross-culturally interesting phenomenon, l'auto-stop inevitably relies on need and reciprocity. As a stochastic method of travel, it nonetheless has the potential for de-normativising car trips, whereby destinations are no longer extensions of the present. Its participants act through certain compelling desires to move in an intensely free yet highly constrained manner; often seeking heights of physical and mental experience as if travel, perhaps even life itself, were fleeting opportunities. Roads, vehicles and bequested transport are part of that opportunity.

Keywords: alternative travel; auto-ethnography; ethnographic documentary; performance; roadscapes.

panel P55
Mobilities and marginalities