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Sheffield postgraduate seminar

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susana cortés

on 3 September 2013

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Transcript of Sheffield postgraduate seminar

In June 2011, in Santiago, Chile, my 4 years old son, Felix, went to the cinema with his friend Emilia, her mum and me to watch this movie: Cars 2. He had watched Cars 1 previously and waited for months to watch the new film; it was his first trip to the movies; Emilia wanted to join him just to share a moment with his friend –although she was not particularly interested in Cars. It was a strange children's movie, with anthropomorphised cars, oil conspiracy, secret agents and explosions? Some time later, Felix learned from his parents that we would move to England, London, the city in the end of Cars 2: the city of the “Big Ben”.
Before all this events, Cars 1 – the first film in the saga - had led him to characterize his ordinary car figures as the movie characters, based upon their colors and shapes. His grandmother found it “sad” and decided to provide him with the “real” characters, starting a long campaign to get him as many characters as possible. Her enterprise was intensified in the light of the news: her grandson was going to live abroad, and she had to get the cars quickly. This was not an easy task, as the cars were quite expensive and the supermarkets and toyshops in Chile did not have all the characters at the same time, same place. They used to play with the cars and have long dialogues around the movie, discussing which cars were the fastest, which ones he already had and which ones he was most willing to find next. She chased the Cars all over the city, getting one here and one there, calling us when she found one to check whether Felix had it or not. However, the chase was not completed yet when Felix came to the UK.
Felix arrived to London on a Friday afternoon, one month after I came. On Saturday morning, the first thing he wanted to do was to go and see the Big Ben: the “real” one. He did not want to have lunch, he just wanted to get to the Big Ben as soon as possible. We walked in the river's direction; we got there, we saw it from the other side of the river; we approached and saw it from below, we got as close as we could get, but he was not satisfied yet: he wanted to go inside and to check whether Mater was still there, captured by Professor Z’s henchmen. It was a huge disappointment for him not to be able to go inside and to hear his parents explaining that it was “only” a movie. We continued our first stroll and by chance we got to the “Queen’s Palace”, as his father indicated. “Yes, Buckingham Palace!” specified Felix.
Once Felix settled in his new home in Leamington Spa, communication by post, Skype and telephone took its place in Felix’s live: a package with the two British racers arrived to our mailbox; telephone conversations with his granny revolved about the cars he received from her and the winners in the last races he did; while a Skype session with Emilia started with Felix showing her his new Cars and they ended up playing hide and seek under their desks.
Children's Mobilities: tracing movement, imagination and communication
Felix arrived to London on a Friday afternoon, one month after I came. On Saturday morning, the first thing he wanted to do was to go and see the Big Ben: the “real” one. So we did. We walked towards the river; he did not want to have lunch, he just wanted to get to the Big Ben as soon as possible. We got there, we saw it from the distance, from the other side of the river; we approached and saw it from below, we got as close as we could get, but he was not satisfied yet: he wanted to go inside and to check whether Mater was still there, captured by Professor Z’s henchmen. It was a huge disappointment for him not to be able to go inside and to hear his parents explain that was “only” a movie. We continued our first stroll and by chance we got to the “Queen’s Palace”, as his father indicated. “Yes, Buckingham Palace!” specified Felix.
MOBILITIES
LOCALIZING THE GLOBAL
REDISTRIBUTING THE LOCAL
corporeal movement of people
physical movement of objects
imaginative, virtual and communicative travel (of people, objects and ideas)
CIRCULATING ENTITIES
(Latour 2005)

Childhood as an hybrid phenomena
(Prout 2005)
What is the Mobilities Paradigm about?

Integrated approach to the movement of people, things and ideas across diverse scales, emphasizing the key role of movement in social life (Urry, 2007, Cresswell, 2010).

“It enables the ‘social world’ to be theorized as a wide array of economic, social and political practices, infrastructures and ideologies that all involve, entail or curtail various kinds of movement of people, or ideas, or information or objects (…) So I use the term mobilities to refer to the broader project of establishing a movement-driven social science” (Urry, 2007:18).
Diverse forms and scales of movement:

Corporeal travel of people
Physical movement of objects;
Virtual, imaginative and communicative travel of ideas, images and information.


“(…) Work on mobilities tends to link across different scales of moving (…) a mobilities approach considers all forms of movement from small-scale bodily movements, such as dance and walking, through infrastructural and transport aided movements to global flows of finance or labour. Understanding these things together adds up more than the sum of the parts” (Cresswell, 2010:552).
“social science needs to reflect, capture, simulate and interrogate movements across variable distances that are how social relations are performed, organized and mobilized” (Urry, 2007:44).
How can mobiltiies contribute to our understanding of childhood?

Overcoming dualistic understanding of childhood in terms of:

power/less
agency/structure
in/dependent mobility
local/global lives
people and institutions
– a child, his relatives, his friends, governments, border agencies, children’s centres, schools, universities...
objects and technologies
–toys, books, DVDs, cinema infrastructure, letters, computers, Skype...
ideas and images
–a movie plot, images of particular cities, song melodies, the rules of a game, the face of a friend, photographs...
"constellations of temporary coherence" (Massey 1995)
How is young children’s everyday life experienced and articulated through mobilities in an English town?

What kinds of mobilities do young children experience?

What interactions are afforded by children’s mobilities and how can we trace them?

How do they perceive their positions in these interactions?

How is the town constituted as a place from the point of view of children’s mobilities?
“research methods also need to be
‘on the move’
, in effect to simulate in various ways the many and interdependent forms of intermittent movement of people, images, information and objects” (Urry 2007:39).
As the very mobilities paradigm posits, distance is organized not only through physical travel of people but also through other means and agents of movement. Ethnography, too, should treat in this way the many forms of distance encountered, attempting to overcome it through diverse means of movement and focusing not only in people but also objects, ideas, images and practices
.
The children go in the playroom while their mums sign in the register. The attendance register of the children’s centre relates children’s homes in the form of postcodes to the cluster of children’s centre of the area and from there to the whole Sure Start system.
During the activity I am observing, a set of bells is being moved by the corporeal movement of 3 children around the centre; a movement that links the babies’ zone with the toddlers play area and fills the space with their sound: a sound that is neither the bells’ sound nor the children’s, but rather a sound only accomplished through their intersected agency.
Susana Cortes
PhD Education
University of Warwick
S.R.Cortes-Morales@warwick.ac.uk

References


CHRISTENSEN, P., JAMES, A. & JENKS, C. 2000. Home and movement: children constructing "family time". In: VALENTINE, H. A. (ed.) Children´s Geographies: Playing, living, learning. Londres: Routledge.

CHRISTENSEN, P. & MIKKELSEN, M. 2009. Is children´s independent mobility really independent? A study of children´s mobility combining ethnography and GPS /mobile phones technologies. Mobilities, 4, 37-58.

CHRISTENSEN, P. Y. O. B., MARGARET (ed.) 2003. Children in the city. Home, neighbourhood and community, London: Routledge.

CRESSWELL, T. 2010. Mobilities I: Catching Up. Progress in Human Geography, 35, 550-558.

CZARNIAWSKA, B. 2007. Shadowing. and other techniques for doing fieldwork in modern societies, Copenhagen, Copengahen Business School Press.

JIRÓN, P. 2009. On becoming la sombra/the shadow. Documento de trabajo FONDECYT 1090198. Santiago de Chile: Instituto de la Vivienda, Universidad de Chile.

LATOUR, B. 2005. Reassembling the social. An introduction to actor-network theory, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

MASSEY, D. 1995. The conceptualization of place. In: MASSEY, D. & JESS, P. (eds.) A place in the world? Oxford, New York: Open University, Oxford University Press.

PROUT, A. 2000. The body, childhood and society, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

PROUT, A. 2005. The Future of Childhood, Oxon, New York, RoutledgeFalmer.

QUINLAN, E. 2008. Conspicuous Invisibility. Shadowing as a data collection strategy. Qualitative Inquiry, 14, 1480-1499.

URRY, J. 2007. Mobilities / John Urry, Polity.
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