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Envisaging L'Aquila
edited by Alessandro Coppola

STRANDED: An Eruption of Disruption

Call for Papers for the Journal Mobilities

Fortunately, the extent of the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull this year was measured not in lives lost but in flights lost. The event was not an humanitarian catastrophe, but a logistical catastrophe (a catas(h)trophe), exposing important fault-lines in the “contours of the risk society” for those living on the “volcano of civilization” in Ulrich Beck’s words (1994: 19). Unlike the tragic classical eruptions of Vesuvius where nearby inhabitants of Pompeii were abruptly petrified in the mundane acts of everyday life, or the May 2010 eruptions of Pacaya and Tungurahua in Guatemala and Ecuador, where two people died and many others were injured or displaced, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull only paused travellers momentarily. A blip in the constant flows that constitute globalized everyday routines for many. It could be seen as a simulated catastrophe, which attracted simulated heroics. Ad hoc flotillas of ships evocative of the miracle of Dunkirk—intent on rescuing stranded UK citizens on the shores of Europe—never arrived, or were turned back by bureaucracy and systemic failure. Disrupted travellers tussled from terminal to terminal, spurred by rumour and misinformation. The event was an eruption of disruptions; a bloodless coup. While images of stranded travellers sleeping in airport terminals eerily resonate with images of the victims of Vesuvius, those in Pompeii who had the foresight to leave survived. Those that fled when Eyjafjallajökull erupted were ironically those most affected, becoming embroiled in the global complexities of disrupted mobile path dependencies of global capitalism. On a more positive note, while the airline sector was quick to audit the extent of damage the eruption cost to the industry, other commentators measured the eruption in terms of savings of carbon emissions that would otherwise have been spent in air travel.
In retrospect, a number of questions emerge. What was at stake? What did this event cost us? Was it money, comfort, leisure, productivity, safety, time? What does this eruption of disruption tell us about our mobile global risk society and the path dependencies of late modernity?
This special section of the Mobilities journal seeks to provide a forum for analyses and reflexive accounts of the disrupted mobilities triggered by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. We invite submissions of short papers from 1000-5000 words that attempt to explore and historicize this event and its implications in terms of the ‘mobilities turn’ in the social sciences. Key questions might focus on what the eruption means for imaginaries around and dependencies on flying; the dangers and disruptions ingrained in global travel; the pervasive expectations of fluidity and ease of passage across different cultures, languages, infrastructures, and domains; the links between travel, productivity, and new technologies; and the future disruptions that the event might foretell.

Important dates
1. 31 August 2010: Deadline for submission of manuscripts
2.15 September 2010: Notification of acceptance
3. 27 October 2010: Submission of camera-ready papers
4. Publication with quick turn-around
Submission
We seek high quality and original submissions. Submission of manuscripts (between 1000 and 5000 words, where a figure equals 250 words) are invited. If you have ideas for visual submissions (or other creative formats), please contact us to discuss. Please follow the layout guidelines given in the Instructions for Authors on the publisher’s web page ( http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/journal.asp?issn=1745-0101&linktype=44 ). The manuscript (in MS-Word) should be sent electronically to: mobilities@lancaster.ac.uk (Harvard layout).
Review board and process
Each paper will be reviewed by at least 2 experts in the field. Reviewers will be members of the Mobilities editorial board and further researchers in the area of the special issue.
Guest editors
Thomas Birtchnell, Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, UK. t.birtchnell@lancaster.ac.uk (Contact)
Monika Buscher, Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, UK. m.buscher@lancaster.ac.uk

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