(Auto)-Mobility in the global Middle East: defining the field
- Muirhead Tower, Room 113
- Friday 6 November 2015 (09:00-18:00)
This one day workshop, held in the “motor city” of Birmingham, UK, a centre of car production and of expertise about (auto)-mobility, brings into conversation historians and social scientists who investigate the histories, politics, and social, visual and aesthetic meanings of (auto)-mobility, primarily across the Middle East but also in global and comparative perspective in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
A transformative phenomenon of the twentieth century, (auto)-mobility in its various incarnations globalized unevenly after World War One, altering a variety of social practices and inflecting the wider dynamics of production and consumption. From new roads, production lines and showrooms, to traffic jams, garages, advertisements, car accidents, joy riders and (counter-) insurgency techniques, to name just a few salient aspects, motorized vehicles and the conditions they provoked altered conceptions of time, senses of place or authenticity,and the production of space.
Our title makes use of parenthesis advisedly, since regardless of whether people took the wheel, loitered at the curb, hitched a lift or crossed the road, (auto)-mobility transformed practices of gender, class, and domesticity, most notably, though not exclusively, in urban and suburban contexts. (Auto)-mobility also refigured international and regional dynamics in contexts such as pilgrimage, even as national road networks worked to produce national space, and urban roads re-segregated newly ‘historic’ inner cities and downtowns from suburbs that became both gated communities and laboratories for religious and political organization.
Via a case study or a historiographical intervention, participants will present their evaluations of the state of this burgeoning field as part of wider (auto)-mobility studies, and will engage in debate on its potential and future direction, whether as scholars of the Middle East or of other sites and networks of (auto)-mobility around the world.
The workshop will operate as a prologue and agenda-setting session for a larger conference, gathering original research, to be held at the University of Birmingham in June 2016.
[Photo credit]: Daredevil Rider on the “Death Highway”, Beirut. Lebanon. Photo © 2015 and by courtesy Walid Rashid (www.walidrashid.com)