Shock (im)mobilities are dramatic incidents of mobilities and immobility caused by acute disruptions and uncertainties. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, led to lockdowns of unprecedented scale, which, in turn, triggered panicked flights in many instances. The patterns, duration, density, demographic composition, and temporal dynamics of shock mobilities remain a black box in many cases.
Text Entries | Conversations in video or audio
In this MoLab conversation, Biao Xiang and Deborah Jones discuss China's abstention from the UN condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the divide in the Chinese public perception, and the need to rebuild the global system. (recorded on 9 March 2022)
In this MoLab conversation, Ukraine scholar Deborah Jones talks with Biao Xiang about the current refugee crisis and reflects on social and political changes in the country over the last decade (recorded on 9 March 2022)
Seafarers are “key workers” during the Covid-19 pandemic as their work is indispensable to ensure the transport of essential goods. At the same time, they face humanitarian crises themselves, as many are not able to travel back home because of border closures and travel restrictions. In this video, Luisa Piart and Biao Xiang reflect on the disruptions faced by seafarers as well as by anthropologists whose fieldwork had to be suspended, too.
Luisa Piart is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Conversation recorded on 27 July 2021
The pandemic appears as different shocks because it brings together multiple contradictions. Shocks induced migrants’ shock mobilities, but, more importantly, migrants’ shock mobilities created widespread shocks across society. — Ranabir Samaddar, Biao Xiang
What does “public” mean in “public health” and “public crisis”? There are publics imagined from above (e.g. “Herd immunity”), and publics constituted from below (e.g. the migrant solidarity movement). — Ranabir Samaddar, Biao Xiang
Effective mobility restrictions rely on organized mobilities that ensure the delivery of essential goods and services whenever needed. Widespread socioeconomic security amongst residents is another precondition for a lockdown to work. So what would happen if mobility restrictions are imposed in a society that lack these capabilities to sustain immobility? How do we measure for those capabilities? — Jelena Dzankic, Timothy Jacob-Owens, Lorenzo Piccoli, Biao Xiang
The World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (2005) required countries to seek approval from WHO before halting international flights, otherwise deeming such activity a violation of international law. However, this rule is very likely to be changed at the 74th World Health Assembly (24 May-1 June 2021), despite support from previous research. What kinds of travel restrictions were imposed in different parts of the world during the pandemic—and how and what were the consequences? — Jelena Dzankic, Timothy Jacob-Owens, Lorenzo Piccoli, Biao Xiang
Patients rushed from one hospital to another seeking care in Dehli in April 2021 and in Wuhan, China, in February 2021. These frantic movements could save lives but also exacerbate infection and anxiety. What are the causes, and what could be alternative ways of channelling limited care resources? — Mukta Naik, Biao Xiang