Multiple Mobilities Research Cluster

Co-directors: Miriam Ticktin, Victoria Hattam and Radhika Subramaniam

The Multiple Mobilities research cluster seeks to rethink notions of migration and mobility by engaging with new literatures in material culture and technology studies, post-­humanism, ecological studies and anthrozoology. It grapples with questions such as how to re‐think issues of temporality and containment, so often central to migration studies, in light of nuclear waste, seepage, and half-lives. How are borders between the ‘natural’ and the industrial being re-worked now? The movement of materials (oil, plastic, viruses), and their environmental impact (spills, toxicity, ocean garbage, epidemics) is inadequately understood within the framework of national and international rights and treaties. We are limited in grappling with the subtle and far-­‐reaching forms of mobility, immobility and injury illustrated by the BP oil spill, the great Pacific garbage patch or the H1N1 virus. To this end, The Multiple Mobilities research cluster plans to mix fieldwork and scholarly research to explore these questions. Two field trips ground our explorations, bringing our diverse backgrounds into conversation.



Group members include Abou Farman, Victoria Hattam, Laura Liu, Miriam Ticktin, Radhika Subramaniam, and Rafi Youatt. The group’s main activities are two, namely the reading group and joint fieldwork.

This first year of a longer collaborative research project has allowed the group to combine the new research in, and insights of, mobility studies — which combines the study of infrastructure, mobile devices and movement within territories — with a continued attention to questions of migration and borders.

During Fall 2014, the six professors met once a month to discuss readings on mobilities of all kinds. This helped building connections across the various fields of anthropology, geography, political science, and curatorial practice. Readings were drawn from across the humanities and social sciences, and the bibliography is copied below. The reading group activity will resume in March through May.

Additionally, the group did together two fieldwork trips. The first one was on October 2014 to the Urban Field Station at Fort Totten in Queens. The group talked to field station staff members, and walked in Kissena Park. The group saw a wild part of the park nestled in amongst the skyline as well as Evergreen Community Garden—one of the largest community gardens in the city.

Starting out at Kissena Park © Victoria Hattam | Personal collection


The second fieldwork trip was on February 12-16 2015 to Brownsville, Texas, and had the purpose of studying a wide range of mobilities across the US-Mexico border. The group was shown the border wall itself by the US border patrol, met with fisheries and wildlife personnel, as well as journalists, academics, and activists.

Rio Grande seen through border wall, Brownsville  © Victoria Hattam | Personal collection

Rio Grande seen through border wall, Brownsville © Victoria Hattam | Personal collection









A major outcome of the project is the group’s findings and insights about the process of collaboration itself, which has became an explicit part of the project. The group is interested in this process as a mode of experimental research, but also wants to understand how to create the conditions of possibility for future interdisciplinary research endeavors.

Two aspects seemed particularly critical to the group’s ability to speak and work across disciplinary divides. First, sustained time in one site, which enabled a depth and rigor of collective intellectual exploration not possible in everyday life. Second, a common object, namely Brownsville, Texas, at the US-Mexico border.

Read the group’s own mid-term report, which includes many other photos! For a more elongated version of the group’s activity, please read their final report found



Battaglia, Debbora. 2014. “Cosmic Open Sourcery:  Anxious Thoughts on Artifacts of Falsse Witness and the  Hypermediacy Effect.” In . New York University Department of Media, Culture, and Communication.

Bennett, Jane. 2005. “The Agency of Assemblages and the North American Blackout.” Public Culture 17 (3): 445–66. doi:10.1215/08992363-17-3-445.

Castree, Noel. 2002. “False Antitheses? Marxism, Nature and Actor-Networks.” Antipode 34 (1): 111–46. doi:10.1111/1467-8330.00228.

———. 2003. “Environmental Issues: Relational Ontologies and Hybrid Politics.” Faculty of Social Sciences – Papers, January, 203–11. doi:10.1191/0309132503ph422pr.

Choy, Timothy. 2012. “Air’s Substantiations.” In Lively Capital: Biotechnologies, Ethics, and Governance in Global Markets, edited by Kaushik Sunder Rajan. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. 2012. Theory from the South, Or, How Euro-America Is Evolving Toward Africa. Paradigm Publishers.

Cowen, Deborah. 2010. “A Geography of Logistics: Market Authority and the Security of Supply Chains.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100 (3): 600–620. doi:10.1080/00045601003794908.

Fawcett, Charles Bungay. 1918. Frontiers: A Study in Political Geography. Clarendon.

Heatherington, Tracey. 2012. “From Ecocide to Genetic Rescue: Can Technoscience Save the Wild?” In The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death, by Genese Marie Sodikoff. Indiana University Press.

Helmreich, Stefan. 2003. “Trees and Seas of Information: Alien Kinship and the Biopolitics of Gene Transfer in Marine Biology and Biotechnology.” American Ethnologist 30 (3): 340–58. doi:10.1525/ae.2003.30.3.340.

Hinchliffe, Steve, John Allen, Stephanie Lavau, Nick Bingham, and Simon Carter. 2013. “Biosecurity and the Topologies of Infected Life: From Borderlines to Borderlands.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38 (4): 531–43. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00538.x.

Hinchliffe, Steve, Matthew B. Kearnes, Monica Degen, and Sarah Whatmore. 2005. “Urban Wild Things: A Cosmopolitical Experiment.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 (5): 643–58. doi:10.1068/d351t.

Kaplan, Caren. 2006. “Mobility and War: The Cosmic View of US ‘air Power.’” Environment and Planning A 38 (2): 395–407. doi:10.1068/a37281.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. 2012. “Recall of the Wild.” The New Yorker. December 17.

Lippard, Lucy R. 1997. The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. New Press.

Lorimer, Jamie, and Clemens Driessen. 2014. “Wild Experiments at the Oostvaardersplassen: Rethinking Environmentalism in the Anthropocene.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 39 (2): 169–81. doi:10.1111/tran.12030.

Mabey, Richard. 2012. Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants. Reprint edition. New York: Ecco.

Margulis, Lynn, and Dorion Sagan. 1995. What Is Life?. University of California Press.

Mountz, Alison, and Jennifer Hyndman. 2006. “Feminist Approaches to the Global Intimate.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 34 (1/2): 446.

Nevins, Joseph. 2013. “Policing Mobility, Maintaining Global Apartheid—from South Africa to the United States.” In Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis, edited by Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge, 19–26. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press.

Rosen, Jody. 2014. “Animal Traffic.” New York Times Style Magazine Blog. September 5.

Sheller, Mimi. 2011. “Mobility.” Sociopedia.isa.

Sheller, Mimi, and John Urry. 2006. “The New Mobilities Paradigm.” Environment and Planning A 38 (2): 207–26. doi:10.1068/a37268.

Subramaniam, Banu. 2001. “The Aliens Have Landed! Reflections on the Rhetoric of Biological Invasions.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 2 (1): 26–40.

Sundberg, Juanita. 2010. “Diabolic Caminos in the Desert and Cat Fights on the Río: A Posthumanist Political Ecology of Boundary Enforcement in the United States–Mexico Borderlands.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101 (2): 318–36. doi:10.1080/00045608.2010.538323.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 2010. “Apocalypse Forever? Post-Political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change.” Theory, Culture & Society 27 (2-3): 213–32. doi:10.1177/0263276409358728.

Warren, Charles R. 2007. “Perspectives on the `alien’ versus `native’ Species Debate: A Critique of Concepts, Language and Practice.” Progress in Human Geography 31 (4): 427–46. doi:10.1177/0309132507079499.