Call for Papers: Autostop/hitchhiking: socio-spatial understandings @ the Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future Conference

Dear All,

Please see below the details of a panel for the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future Conference, which is taking place 4th-7th June 2020, London.

The title of the panel is: Autostop/hitchhiking: socio-spatial understandings.   

We are pleased to confirm the call for conference papers is now open,  and we welcome all submission proposals that fit broadly with this theme. Papers addressing this theme may be presentations, or in alternative formats. Proposals can be submitted here:

If you would like further details or wish to discuss ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Please forward this call to anyone you think may be interested in the panel theme.

Patrick Laviolette (New Europe College / UCL) –

Michael O’Regan (Bournemouth University) –

Short abstract:

Autostop/hitchhiking remains peripheral in anthropology and geography. Despite its global and (inter)trans-national aspects, even research in the social sciences and humanities has shun this formative and iconic type of mobility. This panel is an ongoing collective response to such oversights.

Long abstract:

Hitchhikers are an increasingly rare breed. As autostop’s western frontier dwindles, its eastern extension also slows. Discourses on danger, individualism, marginality and cheap neoliberal alternatives predict the phenomenon’s imminent extinction. We face an emergent, complex entangling of road networks no longer designed for people. Private, self-driving, autonomous (or driverless) vehicles promise to create a system of freedom and liberation. For many critics, however, they hybridise assemblages of human-technological landscapes into banal infrastructural spaces of car parks, filling stations and repair garages to service the motor and petro-chemical industries. These structure and produce unsustainable automobilities, reflecting deeper social anxieties of alienation, loneliness, melancholy and even rage. Paradoxically, the 21st c. is witness an autostop/hitchhiking revival through race competitions, hitch-gatherings, art events, online publications and other audio-visual-textual accounts. Producing their own emotive geographies and socio-political reactions, autostoppers allegedly contest and subvert the apparent consensus of hyper-modern, friction-free transportation grids. The practice supports intense encounters with strangers whilst anomalously negotiating speudo-public/private infrastructural spaces. Grounded in our respective interests into autostopping’s diverse facets (such as risk, fear and trust, gender, tourism mobility, counter-culture, adventure seeking); the panel explores some of the activity’s sites, narratives, eccentricities and embodied affectivities. Moreover, it will challenge current thinking about the organisation of movement, alienation and (auto)mobile materialities. We welcome papers that address such hitchhiking related themes in order to collate an academically publishable comprehensive overview on the practice. Hence, this is a follow up panel to the recent IUAES 2019 session we held in Poznan, Poland.