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Mobility Justice and the Right to Immobility: From Automobility to Autonomobility

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date2010
Number of pages16
Original languageEnglish
EventAmerican Association of Geographers: Annual Meeting - Washington DC, United States
Duration: 14/04/201016/04/2010


ConferenceAmerican Association of Geographers
Abbreviated titleAAG 2010
CountryUnited States
CityWashington DC


Modern societies appear to be unthinkable without intense exchange across geographical distances, without extensive mobilities of people, goods, ideas and information (Canzler et al. 2008: 1). While, in pre-modernity, spatial mobility had been associated with insecurity and danger (…), in modernity, mobility (…) gradually turned into a common right claimed among equals.” (Rammler 2008: 61). Thus, the continuous increase of mobility associated with a continuous increase of progress, freedom and autonomy appears to be the still valid promise of modernity. However, the present threat of climate change and the finite nature of fossil and other nonrenewable energy fuels, as well as issues of global justice, question the possibility of prolonging a growth of mobility into the future. On the level of cities and communities also, motorised traffic produces increasingly negative impacts on the social and spatial level. Moreover, what is commonly understood as a freedom turns more and more into the compulsion to move. This tension between two major human goals in relation to mobility, which we label provisionally 'freedom' and 'sustainability', form the point of departure of our short explorative paper. In order to untangle the herein contained strands of values and arguments, we will firstly sketch the connection between capitalist growth and increase of movement of goods, information and people. Secondly, we will look more closely at the association of mobility and freedom and argue that it is a very specific concept of freedom – the nuclear individual, freed of spatial and social bonds – which constitutes the basis of this mobility-as-freedom ideology. In regards to the social and ecological costs of this mobility dispositiv, we will thirdly make an attempt to think of future mobilities in a new, utopian way drawing on examples from history and literature, through which we hope to better reconcile freedom and sustainability.