Auto(no)mobility subjectivities

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Organizers: Debbie Hopkins
Chairs: Debbie Hopkins

Call for Submissions

In this session, we are looking for conceptual and/or empirical contributions which help to advance earlier scholarship on the automobile subject. In particular, we are interested in submissions which build on and further emerging work on how automation and/or connectivity might challenge, reaffirm or reconstitute existing gendered, classed and racialised (auto)mobile subjectivities (Hildebrand and Sheller, 2018; Manderscheid, 2018). Submissions may be guided by one or more the following questions:
1. What types of conceptual resources are available for thinking through auto(no)mobile subjectivities-in-the-making?
2. How can we empirically engage with diverse and emergent subjectivities-in-the-making?
3. To what extent do emerging narratives and visions challenge, reaffirm or reconstitute existing (auto)mobile subjectivities (i.e., the masculine driver; the female passenger; the car)?
4. Through what types of practices, materialities and institutions (e.g., media; visions and roadmaps; policies and regulations; and industry sectors (automotive, consultancy, freight, taxi/ride-hailing)) are subjectivities being constructed?
5. Who is able/responsible for constructing and challenging these subjectivities-in-the-making?
6. How might auto(no)mobile subjectivities vary geographically, especially in the global North and the global South?
Please submit a 250-word abstract to the proposed themes to Brendan Doody ( and Debbie Hopkins ( by October 21 2019. We will notify you of your acceptance by October 25, 2019. All accepted contributors need to register for the conference and provide their AAG PIN (Personal Identification Number, obtained after registration for the conference) to the organiser by 10 November 2019 in order to be included in the session.


Auto(no)mobility subjectivities
Call for papers for a session on ‘Auto(no)mobility Subjectivities’ at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference, Denver CO, 6-10 April 2020.
Conference website:
Organised by: Dr Brendan Doody and Dr Debbie Hopkins, Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK.

Developments in vehicle connectivity and autonomy have increased speculation around what types of mobility practices, cultures, institutions, infrastructures and systems might emerge in the future. As John Urry (2004) and others (Paterson, 2007; Geels, 2012) have argued, the ongoing dominance of the car owes to the various socio-technical elements (e.g., road infrastructure, land use planning and rules, laws and regulations) which constitute the ‘regime’ or ‘system of automobility’. The automobile subject, as its primary daily agent, is one of the central elements on which the possibility of automobility depends. This person or subject is oriented towards and values the opportunities that the car creates for instantaneous, flexible and seamless movement.
The automobile subject has been promoted and produced, takes multiple forms and is constantly reproduced through a ‘complex interplay of popular cultural forms, daily practice, regulatory interventions, surveillance and resistance’ (Merriman, 2007; Paterson, 2007, p. 164). Those who have sought to ‘take seriously the reality and depth of the identities produced around the car’ (Paterson, 2007, p. 122) have drawn inspiration largely from Michel Foucault’s (1988, 1991) work on governance and governmentality and the writings on the cyborg or hybrid figure from STS scholars such as Donna Haraway (1991) and Bruno Latour (1993).


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