The MoLab – Inventory of Mobilities and Socioeconomic Changes Launched

April 27, 2021

The Department ‘Anthropology of Economic Experimentation’ launched its MoLab Inventory of Mobilities and Socioeconomic Changes today. MoLab stands for the Mobility, Technology and Wellbeing Lab. Consisting of entries that represent cases of emerging patterns or meanings of mobility, the Inventory documents ongoing changes in mobilities and explores new research angles that arise from the empirical data.

In this short video, Biao Xiang reflects on the excitements and confusions in migration and mobility studies, and discusses why we need the MoLab Inventory.

“Everyone knows that mobility is terribly important, be it movement of people, things, or information”, Director Biao Xiang explains. “But the challenge is: given that mobilities are so amorphous, how can we capture their latest changes and at the same time accumulate knowledge to provide insights that have lasting impacts?” He likens the entries to pieces of clay that turn mudslide-like mobilities into something of manageable sizes and stable shapes. These clay pieces will enable users to compare or combine different pieces of information, and to create something new. All the entries are assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) and are thus permanently searchable and fully quotable. To facilitate cumulative and collaborative research, the Department will sponsor workshops, seminars, and writing projects that develop material in the Inventory into publications with lasting impacts (see Invitation to Participate).

MoLab on Twitter
MoLab also opened its Twitter account MoLab Max Planck ( last week, the first social media initiative at the MPI for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale).
Xiang compares the inventory to the notecard file used by sociologist Niklas Luhmann. “Luhmann called his cards a ‘competent partner’ because the cards later pointed him to questions that had previously never occurred to him. Xiang: "I hope that the Inventory will take on a similar life of its own. But the life of our Inventory should be even more vibrant and long lasting. This will be a collective life created and shared by everyone working in mobility and migration studies, across disciplines and across the world."

Go to Editor View