University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies

University of Surrey

Mobility and Creativity: Narrative, Representation and Performance

3 July 2009 - 4 July 2009

Workshop Report

Mobilities has increasingly become central to the analysis of social relations in contemporary society where it often appears that 'all the world is on the move,' from the movement of diasporas, tourists, migrants and refugees. While the emergence of this new 'mobility paradigm' (Sheller and Urry, 2006; Urry 2002, 2007) originated within the social sciences, this conference focuses on how such a 'mobility turn' has been narrated, represented and performed within the arts and humanities. The two-day international conference aimed to explore creative responses to these diverse mobilities in literature, art, film, and theatre for example. How have these complex mobilities been negotiated and critiqued through creative practice? Is creativity dependent upon mobility?

Keynote lectures were given by Professor John Urry (Lancaster University), Professor Reina Lewis (London College of Fashion) and Professor Ginette Verstraete (Universiteit Van Amsterdam). The conference also involved an additional 24 papers, and was attended by a total of 46 delegates from around the world (including countries such as India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, America, Canada, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and the UK). The quality of all the papers enabled lively and interesting discussions throughout the conference. For details on all the panels and papers, please see the conference handbook.

In addition, the photographer Elly Clarke gave an introductory talk on her art, and two exhibitions were shown throughout the conference (Time and Place (7 new 6"x4" Single Edition Composites created for this conference) and Some Places I have Never Been To (a slide piece of 81 slides taken by Elly Clarke's father on his travels during the 1950s to 1980s). Elly's exhibitions were a stimulating talking point during the lunch and coffee breaks and provided an interesting audiovisual dimension to the more theoretical/academic conversations of the conference.

Overall, the workshop was a great success. Our aim was to create a space for a multidisciplinary conversation around the intersection between mobility and creativity. This inter/multi-disciplinarity was reflected not only in the backgrounds of our speakers, but also in the disciplinary diversity of the delegates who attended the workshop from other departments at Surrey and from universities around the UK and abroad.

The organisers will be applying to edit a special issue of the Mobilities journal published by Routledge, which will be entitled 'Mobility and Creativity.'

Sarah Gibson and Churnjeet Mahn

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25 September, 2009