Transforming commuting mobilities: The memory of practice

David Bissell*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines how nonrepresentational theories of practice can expand our understanding of the ways in which mobility transformations take place. It argues that we need to attend more sensitively to the different ways in which mobility practices self-transform through their ongoing, repeated enactment. Its central claim is that commuting practices are always evolving, adapting, and elaborating. This is because of the different ways that the past coexists with and complicates action in the present. The first part of the paper shows how mobility transformations are most frequently evaluated according to linear, chronological understandings of temporality. In response, it shows how an attunement to duration, using conceptualisations of the virtual, provides a way of understanding the complex temporal folds through which the past inheres in the present, transforming its course. Pivoting around three interview encounters with commuters in Sydney, Australia, the second part of the paper shows how the virtuality of the past inheres in and becomes actualised in the present through movements, events, and milieus-flagging the significance of habit memory, recollection memory, and tertiary memory, respectively. These virtual potentials underscore not only the complexity and excessiveness of the present, but also the openness and the indeterminacy of the future. The paper questions what constitutes a mobility transformation; it expands our comprehension of the agencies of transformation affecting life in this sphere; and it challenges us to rethink the ontological unit upon which macropolitical interventions are usually focused.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1946-1965
    Number of pages20
    JournalEnvironment and Planning A
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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