CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
What does 'active' movement (in contrast to being moved) do to our bodies and minds? What do active movers hope to achieve (apart from the obvious health benefits)? Which transformations are desired and which ones obtained? This panel will address these and related questions.
The human species has been on the move since people were able to stand upright, a human powered mobility that meets various needs. Historical developments in transport technologies have radically altered both the purpose and physical experience of travelling. For those who can afford it and are allowed to, contemporary travels are commonly characterized by increased comfort, speed, and distance. Interestingly, however, highly industrialized societies are witnessing an increasing move (back) towards so-called 'active' and human powered modes of transportation in terms of daily home-work movements, recreational mobilities (walking, cycling or running being the most popular ones), and travels (e.g. walking tours, hiking and trails, and 'pilgrimages'). What precisely is at stake in this trend? How do these sought after bodily motions (and the related emotions) compare to the forcibly 'slow' modes of mobility by many refugees (e.g. those desperately trying to enter the EU) or to the historical journeys of long-distance pilgrims? What does active movement (in contrast to being moved) do to our bodies and minds? How does 'active' movement affect the way we interact and think about our environments or sense of place? What do active movers hope to achieve (apart from the obvious health benefits)? Which transformations are desired and which ones obtained? Based on ethnographic data and innovative conceptual frameworks, this panel will address these and related questions.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Fast technologies and slow travels: experiencing place through apps, virtual maps, and walking
Based on preliminary research and a case study analysis, this paper considers how this technology-human hybrid form of mobility and travel may possibly lead to different experiences and understandings of place.
Developments in travel and technological advancements have led to an increase in the speed with which people and information travel across great distances. One can experience another place, another country even, within an hour or two of travel; or, one can visit these places virtually, in an instant, with a click, or with a swipe of a finger or two. While travel and technological advancements may have led to increased mobility and 'fast tourism,' this paper explores how new technology intersects with human powered movement leads to a form of 'slow tourism.' Specifically, it examines how the use of mobile applications and virtual maps for walking tours produces new ways of interacting with our environment. Based on preliminary research and a case study analysis, this paper considers how this technology-human hybrid form of mobility and travel may possibly lead to different experiences and understandings of place.
Meaningful slow motion
Based on preliminary research findings, this paper will analyse the active quest for slow modes of travel and mobility in the 'developed'world against the wider background of other forms of slow mobility (whether voluntary or forced).
The desire to 'move' is a fundamental facet of being human, and the kinds of mobility involved in this desire are psychological and spiritual as well as physical. In the so-called 'developed' parts of the world, many people report to be living in 'overdrive' (in a state of excessive activity and speed). As busy as their professional lives may be, people are in search of the 'right speed' with which to move in their 'free' time, in a way that values quality over quantity, long-term benefits over short-term gains, and well-being. In this context, slowness is more than anti-speed. There are interesting parallels to be drawn between slow movements (coupled with the revaluation of physical exertion) and environmental movements, because both seek to evoke novel ideas about the proper pace of a good and enjoyable human life. The discourse around the proper pace of life emphasises experience, pleasure and the sensuous human body. Slowness is embodied in the qualities of rhythm, pace, tempo and velocity that are produced in the sensory and affective relationship between the individual and the world. Proper pace is portrayed as being subject to cultural and practical ways of doing, and as a question of aesthetics. It thus involves taking more time to be 'in the moment' (rather than elsewhere in thoughts). Based on preliminary research findings, this paper will address these issues against the wider background of other forms of slow mobility (whether voluntary or forced).
Stagnation and acceleration: the embodied movements of African traders in China
Drawing on preliminary ethnographic research with African traders, this paper analyzes the decision by African migrants to travel ‘quickly’ to China against the wider background of ‘slow’ modes of mobility that characterize African movement to Europe, and the ‘West’ more generally.
Portrayals of the ‘slow’ modes of mobility of African refugee migrants to the EU dominate the popular and academic imagination, with stories focused on those who are interrupted mid-journey in Africa, detained at liminal border sites, or suspended in settlements across Europe. These narratives of slow movements and stagnation are familiar to African economic migrants – traders – who travel not to Europe, but instead choose to go elsewhere: moving back and forth to China with relative ease. Forcible stillness and stagnation in one place leads to not just active movement elsewhere, but anticipatory acceleration as response to a sense of deferred mobility.
The pressing force of waiting not only changes how African migrants move through space and time, but also the symbolism of space and time and how they attempt to regain agency. Active movement as rhythmically fast and directionally forward becomes a means to remake oneself - mind and body, attitudes and dispositions – according to expectations of how one should be. Hastened demands on labour production (bodies in motion), short durations of stays, hurried walks through the market, frequent cycles of trips per year are economic imperatives, but also aesthetic and ethical actions. Drawing on preliminary ethnographic research with African traders in Yiwu, China, this paper explores the moral economy of ‘slow’ and ‘fast’, the mentality of a ‘temporal development trajectory’, and a bodily compulsion to ‘jump’ ahead by traveling to elsewhere.
Scottish country dancing as a moving reason for mobility: at home, in the diaspora and beyond
This paper addresses a bodily practice that inspires and explains a drive for mobility. It will also inquire into the importance of visiting the home of the practice - Scotland - and the symbolic value of that home culture for dancers in the Scottish diaspora and other parts of the world.
Inspired by the conference theme of movement and the sub-theme of embodied mobilities, I propose a paper that examines a specific and highly stylized form of movement as a rationale for travel (mobility). Movement lies both in the activity that inspires the direction and the travel that ensues, both carrying a shared heritage essential to the process because the practice cannot properly be practiced alone. Scottish country dancing undoubtedly started in Scotland, but it is now enthusiastically enjoyed in lands around the world, including Canada, and it may be transmitted with more rigour abroad than in the home country. Scotland retains an almost magical draw, however, and to participate in annual summer gatherings there gives visiting dancers a kudos not unlike that gained by a returning pilgrim. To be Scottish is of course not a necessary qualification to dance anywhere, but people who sport a Scottish accent may be accorded a kind of reverent deference by others, even in locations as near as middle England. The paper will be based on a lifetime of participant observation in England, Scotland, New Zealand and Japan, and if accepted, will include illustration and the outcome of interviews with current dancers and musicians in central Scotland.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.