The Making and Unmaking of Spatial Orders: Mobilities under the Global Condition from the 19th Century to the Present (5th Annual Conference of the SFB 1199)

Event, online, 7-10 October 2020

For the last two decades, the field of mobility studies has been flourishing, to a large extent in reaction to what has been perceived as a too narrow focus of migration studies. This restricted view includes the “mobility bias”, which after receiving more and more criticism has resulted in a number of innovative proposals to think about mobilities and immobilities as being entangled. A still open field to be developed is how to bring global studies and mobility studies systematically into a closer dialogue, for instance by not only investigating transregional and transnational connections and ruptures in mobility regimes, but also aiming at systematically comparing and connecting different types of mobilities while asking how they are related to processes of respatialization under the global condition.

The SFB 1199 pursues an innovative research agenda that brings together scholars from geography, history, anthropology, political science, cultural studies, and sociology to investigate globalization projects of various types of actors in different world regions from the late 18th century up to the present – projects that are being expressed and advanced as respatializations of the world.

The fifth annual conference of the SFB 1199, which is in its second funding phase, focuses on mobilities as a space-making practice while concentrating on mobile actors as spatial entrepreneurs. These actors act and live under historically specific but variable conditions, which have an impact on their choice of mobility forms and on the effects these mobilities have on spatial orders and spatial formats. Mobile actors can challenge existing spatial orders and formats, possibly leading to the creation of new ones. They also seem to be particularly capable of bringing – or forced to bring – into relation and/or translate between different spatial formats because they are crossing borders of empires and nation-states, thereby dealing with varying jurisdictions, scales, languages, and cultural frameworks. Mobile actors, such as migrants, entrepreneurs, or cultural brokers, develop their own spatiality, which might conflict with those produced by people interested in stability and static conditions. Hence, an understanding of the relation between mobility and respatialization requires considering not only actors and their motives, forms, tools, and resources for mobility, but also those (not necessarily immobile) actors aiming to control, contain, divert, or restrict mobility. Thus, we have to go beyond a dichotomy between the mobile and the immobile as well as reflect upon the fact that actors might have changing strategies over time. Rather, we aim at differentiating between types of mobilities and the reactions to such mobilities – this dialectic is a crucial part of processes of respatialization.

The conference takes place online, providing space for a keynote lecture by Tim Cresswell (U Edinburgh), a roundtable, as well as panel discussions and open working formats. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required through the conference website, which also provides additional and up-to-date information. After registering, you will receive the access code to the virtual panel rooms. If you have further questions, please contact Dr. Ute Rietdorf at



7 October 2020

Matthias Middell & Steffi Marung (Leipzig U)
9:30 am – 10:00 am CEST

Panel “The Challenges of Mapping Mobilities”
10:00 am – 11:30 am CEST

Chair: Ulf Engel (U Leipzig)

Jana Moser (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography): Visualizing Mobilities – Visualized Mobilities

Till Nagel (Mannheim U of Applied Sciences): Moving People. Non-Traditional Forms of Visualizing Mobility

Comment: Francis Harvey (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm CEST
Tim Cresswell (U Edinburgh)
Valuing Mobility in a Post COVID-19 World

Panel “Ambitious Visions of World Order: Neoliberalism and Socialism as Mobile Concepts”
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm CEST

Chair: Uwe Müller (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe)

Max Trecker (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe): Economists in Exile: Forced Mobility and the Neoliberal Respatialization of the World in the 1930s and 1940s

Steffi Marung (Leipzig U): Intellectual and Spatial Mobilities of Black Radical Intellectuals: Imagining a Post-colonial World Order after the Russian Revolution

Johanna Bockman (George Mason U): Aesthetics and Spatial-Claims Moving across Time and Space: Multiple Globalizations in Washington, DC

Comment: Quinn Slobodian (Wellesley C)


8 October 2020

Roundtable “Transregional Perspectives on Mobility”
10:00 am – 11:30 am CEST

Chair: Steffi Marung (Leipzig U)

Ursula Rao, Elisabeth Kaske, Stefan Rohdewald & Dmitri van den Bersselaar (all Leipzig U)

Panel “The Making of the American Empire: Mobilities, Mobilization, and Borders”
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm CEST

Chair: Matthias Middell (Leipzig U)

Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez (Leipzig U): “More of the Pioneer Spirit”: Black Mobilities in the Age of US Imperialism

Steffen Wöll (Leipzig U): The Space Between Oceans: Mobilizing America’s Transhemispheric Empire

Megan Maruschke (Leipzig U): Mobility at the Border, Mobility of the Border: American Boundary Commissions in the Long 19th Century

Comment: Frank Schumacher (Western U)


9 October 2020

Panel “Decolonization and Post-colonial State Building: Radical and Subversive Mobilities across the Atlantic”
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm CEST

Chair: Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez (Leipzig U)

Marcus Rediker (U Pittsburgh): Violence, Mobility, and Resistance in the Red Atlantic: Introductory Remarks

Ana Moledo (Leipzig U): Transregional Mobilities and National Liberation: Anatomy of a Partnership

Claudia Martínez Hernàndez (U Vienna): Researching Socialist Mobilities: Framing of the Cuban Personnel Circulation

Comment: Holger Weiß (Åbo Akademi U)


10 October 2020

Panel 6 “Economic Networks and Infrastructures: Mobile Actors across Colonial and Post-colonial Spaces in Africa”
9:30 am – 11:00 am CEST

Chair: Dmitri van den Bersselaar (Leipzig U)

Geert Castryck (Leipzig U): Spheres of Life and Scales of Action among Gujarati and Omani Merchants in Central Africa, 1920s–1930s

Rene Umlauf & Marian Burchardt (Leipzig U): Infrastructuring Spatial Formats: Drones and Mobility in Africa

Comment: Dirk van Laak (Leipzig U)

Concluding Discussion
11:30 pm – 1:00 pm CEST