Pluralising mobile methods: researching urban (im)mobilities and anti-Muslim acts with Muslim women

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


Mobile methods are now popular tools in qualitative research on cities and urban space. It is recognised, however, that different kinds of bodies can be excluded. In this seminar I talk about the need to pluralise mobile methods in order to more subtly attune to social distinctions (of gender, ‘race’, and religion). I advance that treatments of new mobile methods inscribe normative ways of seeing the city. The social and cultural politics of researching urban walking practices have often been underplayed in discourse emphasising pleasure, relaxation, and conviviality, that narrowly anticipates a liberal, secular, sovereign subject passing in and through public space. I draw on a series of mapping exercises, diary entries, and walking interviews undertaken with different Muslim women in the cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester. Tracing my own learning in the field, I highlight how attention towards the intersections of mobile methods, (im)mobilities, and social difference are especially crucial in contexts of urban diversity. By re-framing John Urry’s movement and moorings dialectic, I suggest that we need to take seriously stasis caused by physical and perceptual barriers to mobility, such as the growth of the far right, threats of violence, and anti-Muslim acts. And - drawing on feminist geopolitical strategies - to rethink our responsibilities as researchers around orchestrating movement. In turn this requires a critical review of how mobile methods are used and written about in geographical and urban studies research. In this talk I propose that by re-framing the debate on mobile methods we can become more attuned towards ideas of mobility justice and distinct registers of difference that shape the intimate (geo)politics of urban knowledge production.
Period17 Mar 2021
Held atThe University of Sheffield, United Kingdom