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AAG 2022 NYC Annual Meeting

New York City
[Translate to EN:]


Session "Challenging knowledge hegemonies in transport geography"


  • Wojciech Kębłowski, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde

Transport geography continues to be strongly underpinned by top-down logics, procedures and instruments of quantitative analysis, decision-making, and design — largely developed in the global North. While the role and impact of transport goes well beyond technical and economic efficiency, research exploring how mobility reflects and frames political ideologies, mirrors and contributes to the social production of space continues to be conducted by “experts”, be it academics, policy-makers, or consultants. This top-down bias has its geography, as it produces a limited portfolio of “best practices” emanating from a very small circle, predominantly in the Global North — including Amsterdam and Copenhagen as blueprints for cycling policies, Paris and Oslo as cases of anti-automobility measures, Vienna and Zurich as benchmarks for mass transit development. As these blueprints often uncritically reproduce the Northern discourse of urban sustainability, resilience, equity and inclusion, “success stories” from the global South — for instance from Bogotá and Medellin — are either less heard, or circulated predominantly for global South planning imaginaries. At the same time, according to the Shanghai rangking, the great majority of “top” engineering schools are located in the global North and in China, and virtually none in South America and Africa.

In this session, we intend to explore and address this double top-down and Northern bias by turning to diverse bottom-up dynamics, actors and spaces that contribute to producing transport knowledge that is alternative to the dominant — or perhaps even hegemonic — frames, narratives, concepts and methods developed in the global North, and in particular in Western Europe and North America. We invite papers that, on the one hand, explore alternative theoretical approaches to transport, as well as practices of contestation and creation of “alternative” knowledge, e.g. through novel bottom-up production of transport knowledge and practice. On the other hand, as thinking and knowing critically is certainly not limited to any particular language or place—for instance the Anglophone academia of the global North — we welcome contributions that question the domination of Western thought in transport studies, and seek to provincialise it (Roy, 2009, 2016). We are interested in learning through local articulations of social relations that underpin transport in diverse contexts in the Global South or Global East, opening up transport to epistemologies and subjectivities (Davidson, 2021) that do not originate in the scholarly traditions developed in the global North (Mignolo & Walsh, 2018). Crucially, this relates to a long overdue decolonisation of transport theory and practice (Schwanen, 2018; Wood et al., 2020), to embrace voices from these subaltern localities and subjects as sources of theory, and not just empirics (Robinson, 2002, 2016).

The CfP closed on 31 October and we are pleased to announce that we have received several exciting contribution proposals. Detailed information on the session "Challenging knowledge hegemonies in transport geography"coming soon here.

Conference website