Call for papers / Session proposal to the AAG Annual Meeting, Denver, 6-10 April 2020

"Mobilising, producing and contesting public transport from below: NUMTOTS, metrophiles, revolutionaries"

  • Wojciech Keblowski, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Cosmopolis), Université libre de Bruxelles (IGEAT), Brussels, Belgium
  • Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL), Leipzig, Germany

While public transport (PT) is a multi-layered and complex phenomenon, research into PT continues to be dominated by economistic and technocratic approaches geared towards efficiency and rationality, which supposedly justifies the predominantly top-down fashion in which PT is designed, produced and managed (Keblowski & Bassens, 2018). We would, however, advance that PT should also be viewed as a site of bottom-up interests and contestations organised by diverse social actors, groups and movements. Importantly, many of them approach mobility as a means of discussing broader patterns of uneven development and struggling for more democratic decision-making and appropriation of space in Global North and South (Armano et al., 2013; Barghouti, 2009, Larrabure, 2016). We argue that embracing the bottom-up actors engaged in PT opens the pathways towards researching PT as a set of intense and intimate sites for encountering cultural diversity, negotiating normativities, shaping potential mobility futures, and bringing socio-economic cleavages into the spotlight of academics and practitioners alike – all what makes public transport a truly public and collective endeavour.

This conviction builds on an ever-expanding body of critical literature in transport geography and mobilities, which situate movement in the context of space and power (Sheller & Urry, 2006; Kwan & Schwanen, 2016). In this vein, we side with approaches conscious of how class, race, gender shape mobility practices (Law, 1999; Venter, Vokolkova, & Michalek, 2007), alongside social relations and their contestations (Levy, 2013). This includes an exploration of regulatory frameworks, divergent logics and discourses of governing mobility, and the capacity of citizens and workers to participate in shaping transport policies (Timms et al., 2014; Rekhviashvili & Sgibnev, 2018).

This approach allows to invite contributions addressing any of the following themes/objectives, pertaining to the core of public transport-related conflicts:

  • Not only to criticise prevalent technocratic and a-political PT policies, but also to augment the conceptualisation of PT by emphasising its aesthetics, normativities, political economies, complexity and non-linearity, as Temenos et al (2017) have called for;
  • To expand spatial and ethnographical analyses of bottom-up PT actors, as diverse as PT consultants and lobbyists, passengers, workers, activists, NGOs, enthusiasts, collectors, online forum participants, or public intellectuals;
  • To learn how diverse bottom-up actors engaged in PT pursue (conflicting, normatively understood) goals in environmental, economic, political or spatial/social justice terms, and which conflicts, structures and actor constellations are involved in this process;
  • To empirically explore experiences, normativities, contestations, self-positionings and knowledge flows related to PT, and their roles for the construction of different policy trajectories, and (lack of) attempts at socially and environmentally just mobility transitions.
  • To understand which ideologies, assumptions, knowledge inequalities govern our ideas of present and future mobilities (Nikolaeva et al 2018);
  • To critically reflect on the “publicness” of PT, as compared to other forms of “collective” and “commoned” mobilities;


We welcome contributions addressing one or more of the themes outlined above, without regional or disciplinary restrictions. If interested, please submit an abstract (max. 250 words) along with your PIN number to Wojciech Keblowski (wojciech.keblowski(at)vub.be) and Wladimir Sgibnev (W_Sgibnev(at)ifl-leipzig.de) by October 21, 2019. We will notify you of your acceptance by October 23, 2019.



28.01.2020, Berlin

"Urban Activism in Eastern Europe"

Public discussion on 28 January 2020 at the Volksbühne Berlin / IfL researcher Lela Rekviashvili invited as co-discutant 

15.05.2020 to 16.05.2020, Leipzig, Germany

Call for Paper Proposals

Workshop "Conjunctural Geographies of Postsocialist and Postcolonial Conditions: Theory Thirty Years after 1989" 

16.09.2020 to 29.09.2020, Leipzig / Berlin

British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) Regional Conference

in conjunction with Leibniz ScienceCampus “Eastern Europe – Global Area” (EEGA) Results Conference 


Frühauf, Manfred (Herausgeber/-in) / Guggenberger, Georg (Herausgeber/-in) / Meinel, Tobias (Herausgeber/-in) / Theesfeld, Insa (Herausgeber/-in) / Lentz, Sebastian (Herausgeber/-in)
KULUNDA: climate smart agriculture : South Siberian agro-steppe as pioneering region for sustainable land use. -
Cham, Switzerland, Springer. xxvi, 522 Seiten (Innovations in landscape research)
Pflug, Laura
A view from inside: Chinese mapping of the world against the backdrop of colonial experience. -
In: Mapping empires: colonial cartographies of land and sea: 7th international symposium of the ICA commission on the history of cartography, 2018. - Cham, Switzerland: Springer, Seite 61-74
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