Research

A new series of mCenter working papers will soon be available here: Reports@mCenter

These are our current research projects:

1. Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Haiti

National Science Foundation (NSF) “RAPID: Supporting Haitian Infrastructure Reconstruction Decisions with Local Knowledge,” is under the direction of Franco A. Montalto, Michael Piasecki, Mimi B. Sheller, Patrick L. Gurian. This award is effective April 15, 2010 and expires March 31, 2011.

Leogane, Haiti

In the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, the purpose of this proposal is to test the hypothesis that infrastructure rehabilitation priorities based on local knowledge elicited through stakeholder-driven process will differ fundamentally from those developed by technical experts based outside of the service area. To test this hypothesis, we focus on water and sanitation issues in Leogane, a town of approximately 40,000 people located about 30 km to the west of the capital and at the quake’s epicenter. The research is focused on promoting sustainable engineered infrastructure systems that support the well-being of the local population and that are also compatible with the local natural environment.

2. AIR MOBILITIES ON THE U.S.-CARIBBEAN BORDER

National Science Foundation Application, Geography and Spatial Sciences (9/09, resubmission 8/10)

Flying over Haiti

This project uses mobile methodologies to investigate how new mobility regimes in the Caribbean region are restructuring spatiality, state sovereignty, and citizenship in the context of crossing the U.S. “Third Border” in the current period of heightened security concerns, migration flows, and global economic instability. The convergence of intensive human mobilities, “offshore” financial flows, export processing zones, and new forms of border surveillance make the Caribbean a crucial region in which to study how regulatory agencies, airport managers and passengers are constructing air space and borders in a wider regional and transnational context. There are many concerns over the effectiveness of the border, including problems of overlapping jurisdictions, the efficacy of surveillance systems, and the impact of uneven (and possibly irrelevant) security measures on citizen’s mobility rights. In examining how the border works – and its embedding within wider institutional, regulatory, and legal contexts for the movement of people, capital, and goods between the Caribbean and the USA – this research will contribute new empirical findings and policy recommendations that intervene in national and international debates about the politics of mobility and borders.

3. Automobility in transition? A new perspective on transport and sustainability

Workshops and book project organized by René Kemp, Geoff Dudley, Frank Geels, and Glenn Lyons supported by the Dutch Knowledge Network on System Innovation (KSI).

Intelligent Mobility Systems

On the one hand, the automobility system faces several persistent problems such as CO2 emissions, climate change, safety, congestion and local air pollution, which have given rise to various change initiatives with regard to technological innovation, intermodal mobility, car sharing, dynamic traffic management, electronic navigation devices etc. On the other hand, the automobility system is characterized by stability, lock-in and path dependence, which hinder transitions to new systems. This stability arises, amongst others, from sunk investments in infrastructure and car manufacturing plants, consumer preferences and car based mobility patterns, spatial structures associated with housing, working and leisure, and government policies and institutions. The book investigates if and how this lock-in can be overcome, what the tensions, ‘cracks’ and windows of opportunity in existing transport systems are, which change initiatives have the best chance for wider breakthrough, and which sustainability transitions to new transport systems are possible and likely. In particular, the book addresses the following overall question: Will we just see a greening of cars, based on technological innovations that sustain the existing car-based system? Or is something more radical possible, desirable and likely, e.g. the development of travel regimes in which car use is less dominant,  and in which the logic of travel is based on combining different forms of transport leading to a more sustainable transport system?

With chapter contribution by Mimi Sheller: “The Emergence of New Cultures of Mobility: Stability, Openings, and Prospects”

4. Mobile Mediality: Place in Motion

This research project and collaboration (currently seeking funding with various partners) addresses the mediation of mobilities and spatialities as people increasingly are using mobile media while on the move in transit systems and networks, from urban commutes to global flight corridors.   Through everyday practices of moving around cities, people are creating new ways of interacting with others, with places, and with screens while moving. Such practices of “mobile mediality” elicit both utopian hopes and dystopian fears about pervasive computing, augmented reality, “transarchitectures” (Novak), or responsive environments (VURB). Mobile mediality depends on an invisible array of satellites, cell towers, smart buildings and other infrastructure. Architectures of mobility and infrastructures of communication are mixing and blending visible/invisible, presence/absence, and local/global scales.

curtains barcode

Barcode Cinema - Conflux Festival, NY 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are the day-to-day appropriations of mobile media and geo-locational data interacting with the design of public spaces and infrastructures of mobility? How are spaces of transit enriched by mobile media and data flows creating new forms of urban “mediality” (media+spatiality)? How does access to WiFi, mobile 3G, RFID, or GIS data reconfigure urban mobilities and spatialities, and who is excluded from such access? What are the potentials of mobility spaces as new sites for creative interventions, public participation and social interaction? And what problems of privacy, surveillance, secrecy, and uneven accessibility are emerging out of the new patterns of mobile mediality? This project contributes to the emerging research concerning creativity, social mobilization, and the formation of new mobile publics within the software-embedded and digitally augmented urbanism that some describe as “remediated” space (Graham), “hybrid space” (de Souza e Silva), or “networked place” (Varnelis and Friedberg).