CFP: Spinoffs of Mobility: Technology, Risk & Innovation

September 18-21, 2014, Philadelphia, PA, United States

The International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T²M) invites proposals for papers to be presented at the 12th International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, to be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia on 18-21 September, 2014, co-sponsored in association with Drexel’s Centers for Mobilities Research and Policy and Science, Technology and Society, and the Pan-American Mobilities Network.

The conference theme addresses intended and unintended positive, negative, surprising and alarming side effects and collateral damages of mobility in relation to the fields of technology, innovation and risk – especially in situations of war, disaster, terrorism and new modes of securitization which unsettle existing law around human rights, civil rights, political rights, and mobility rights.

Societal transformations and especially times of crisis have often led to pivotal changes and spinoffs in regard to mobility systems, technologies, regulations, and practices. We are interested in the history and the present of these “spinoffs” of transportation, energy and mobility technologies that may be transferred from one context of practice, industrial sector, or region to another, with far-reaching social and environmental consequences. How do transportation systems and mobile technologies move? In what ways do new technologies, infrastructures, and governance approaches disrupt existing systems or create opportunities for new spinoffs, both positive and negative? Which new risks, consequences, or ethical dilemmas do such systemic, technological, and cultural mobilizations create? How do people appropriate, challenge, interrupt or avoid them?

One of the greatest challenges facing our current systems of mobility is, for example, their contribution to climate change and our capacity to prepare for and respond to climate-related natural disasters. What are the ethical questions involved in seeking a transition toward low-carbon technologies? What can we learn from past technological transitions in the realm of traffic, transport, energy and mobility? And given the complexity of our current systems, what kinds of innovations help societies to prepare for disruption or system failures? Or does disaster risk reduction itself become a kind of technocratic logic driving infrastructural investment and urban planning?

Other innovations in transportation and mobility systems have been driven by state-sponsored military research and development, often producing high-risk technologies with potentially unforeseen and detrimental spinoffs. Whatever positive advances we find in aviation, the Space Race, the logistics revolution, the creation of the Internet, and the invention of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, each military-sponsored innovation has also proliferated new risks and ethical dilemmas. We are interested in critical perspectives on the societal developments, political frameworks, and debates in which these spinoffs are initiated and play out.

Innovation also occurs through people’s everyday appropriation of new technologies for their own purposes, or through their resistance to dominant technologies and creation of alternatives. New technologies of traffic, transport, energy and mobile communication also produce waves of imagination of new mobilities, whether in science fiction, architecture, design, tactical media or film. What spinoffs result from the imaginaire of new socio-technical systems, whether utopian or dystopian? How is culture mobilized in producing large-scale technological transitions? How do cultural “scares” such as natural disasters, disrupted mobilities, or terrorist attacks contribute to new framings of mobility and immobility, safety and security in transport? Can we imagine new ways of addressing disability, health, urbanism and climate justice through alternative mobilities?

Call for papers

Papers may address any social, cultural, economic, technological, ecological and political perspectives on the history, present, and future of transport, traffic and mobility. However, preference will be given to our conference theme: Spinoffs of Mobility: Technology, Risk & Innovation.

Panels could focus on topics such as:

• New frontiers of transport technology transitions

• Risk management and risky mobilities

• Disrupted Mobility: natural disasters and system failures

• Energy, transport, and climate change: moving to safety

• Vulnerable populations, mobility, and disaster

• Comparative histories of infrastructure: highways, airways, bike lanes

• SciFi, HiFi, WiFi: changing visions of “smart” transport & “smart cities”

• War, conflict, terrorism: blurred boundaries and mixed entanglements

• Military Mobilities: the politics of infrastructure, war and conflict

• The Space Race, satellites, UAV’s and their unintended spinoffs

• Imaginary mobility and forecasting: fact, fiction, or future?

• IT and social networks: surveillance, privacy, displacements

• Cyberinfrastructure and emergency planning for transport

• Disability, active mobility, and designing for accessibility

• Mobilities of pleasure and pain: light and dark tourism

• Urban mobilities and innovations in the Global South

• Smart infrastructure and connected mobility

• Towards sustainable transportation systems

• Racialized/gendered movement-space and transportation justice

• Researching risky mobilities: methodological challenges and research ethics

It is a T²M tradition that paper and session proposals are not limited to the general topic. We ask for paper and session proposals for all themes in the field of transport, traffic and mobility. By this, the annual conference will give, in a broad way, an up-to-date overview on the field of historical transport and mobility studies. A panel consists of a chair and normally up to three speakers; no commentator is required. We especially encourage transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary approaches, and welcome proposals exploring theoretical or methodological issues as well as those of a more empirical nature. We especially invite recent entrants to the profession and graduate students to submit proposals.

This conference will be hosted by Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA.

The conference language is English (only). The deadline for abstracts and a short cv (max. 1 page each; Word or rich text format only) is 31 March 2014.

Send proposals to: A notification of acceptance will be sent by 1 May 2014. The full text of papers accepted must be submitted by 1 August 2014 if they are to be included on the conference CD-ROM sent in advance to all participants and if they are to be eligible for T2M Awards. All participants are required to register.

For enquiries about the program, please contact Hans Dienel
( For information about local arrangements please contact For details of T2M and of previous conferences, please visit:

Deadline: March 31, 2014

Posted: February 13, 2014