AAG Annual Conference 2014

I am hugely excited that I have had an abstract accepted (and I’ve paid my registration costs) to present at the Annual Conference of the Association of the American Geographers in April 2014. My abstract was a submitted to a group of sessions organised by Tim Schwanen and Mei-Po Kwan broadly titled ‘Geographies of Mobility‘.

AAG 2014
I will present a chapter from my undergraduate dissertation regarding how and why road-runners negotiate space and deal with fleeting encounters with pedestrians. I am looking forward for the chance to air some of these ideas as hopefully the feedback will allow me to strengthen or hone my argument as I seek to get it published and will directly inform an idea I have for my Masters thesis (more on that at another time). Plus the opportunities to network and become geographically enthused will surpass anything else I have been to.

My paper is titled ‘Accomplishing Road-Running: Negotiating Space, Mobile Politics and Order on the Street’ and the abstract is below:

This paper is concerned with the experience of road-runners’ mobility. A mobile form that has eluded sustained or widespread study since the onset of the mobilities turn (Bale, 2004), I aim shed light onto the practice through a focus on one significant yet mundane and commonplace aspect of road-running; that of negotiating space. Thus, I wish to examine in this paper how road-runners manage to negotiate urban space whilst on-the-move through one essential aspect of embodying/accomplishing/doing running: passing pedestrians – how movement, people, things and place interact and embrace dynamism to establish order. Drawing on innovative ethnographic and mobile methods, I will discuss the three different philosophies runners adopt towards how ephemeral and spontaneous meetings should be managed before demonstrating how such situations are successfully performed through the use of three common spatial strategies: choosing a side, stepping down and slaloming. Throughout the paper, notions of mobile politics will be confronted as it is recognised that there are no rules, no conventions and no codes of conduct for negotiating the space of the street (Hockey and Allen-Collinson, 2007; 2013). Solutions for co-habiting space are still improvised ad hoc, in situ and extemporaneously and thus raise intriguing questions around a right to the street, a right of way and of deviancy; that once more demands the interrogation of how mobile order on the street is achieved.

Interestingly, this is the second title I have given this paper having to officially change it with the AAG just the other day. Originally titled ‘Road-Running and Transient Propinquities: Negotiating Space, Mobile Politics and Order on the Street’, I decided that this was just an example of academic verbiage. A practice of using big and complicated words in the place of simple and easily-comprehensible words; making ideas appear overly complex and therefore intelligent. Verbiage is something I detest and am appalled that I demonstrated it initially, in fact it was a phrase taken from my dissertation. I don’t know why I chose ‘transient propinquities’, perhaps I like the way it sounds rolling off the tongue – an almost staccato-like rhythm. I’m much happier with the title change and am reminded of Tim Cresswell’s point that: “Writing…is an exercise in democracy. It is about sharing ideas. If the idea isn’t clearly expressed, it can’t be shared” (2013: p.9) – something I will always have at the fore of my mind when writing and presenting.


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