IfL in cooperation with Lancaster University Leipzig
Takes place
In Attendance
From - Until
23.09.2024 - 25.09.2025
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

The 2024 annual conference of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M), organised by the IfL in cooperation with Lancaster University Leipzig, will focus on transitions and transformations of mobilities and infrastructures. The conference will serve also as the final event of the CoMoDe research project.


Modern societies are experiencing striking technological, ecological, socio-economic and cultural as well as political challenges – with mobility questions at the forefront of these contentions. Actors and institutions across the globe increasingly recognize the need for systemic changes in the ways goods, people, ideas, policies and capital are set in motion – usually framed in the terms of “mobility transitions”. Green deal policies are drafted and “just transition” funds are set up, acknowledging that transition to carbon-free futures will require substantial resources to succeed, but also to avoid uneven and unfair socio-spatial effects on nations, regions, cities, and rural places. Existing research has already criticized mobility transition policies for their narrow normative assumptions, their reliance on large-scale infrastructures and technological innovations, and elaborated on the concepts of mobility justice and commoning mobility as a way of devising collective and collaborative means of shaping mobility transitions (Cresswell et. al 2021; Sheller 2018). It is therefore time to interrogate how and in which ways have “mobility transitions” been framed in different places at different times in their multifaceted histories.

This conference calls for historicising and decentring discussions on mobility transitions and connectivity infrastructures – e.g. by proposing a “transformation” lens. In contrast to the linear teleological thinking prevalent in transition scholarship, the concept of transformations emphasizes diverse paths taken from various standpoints to similarly diverse endpoints (Burawoy and Verdery 1999). Transformation does not necessarily depart from one point (usually understood as regressive) and ends into its destination (usually understood in progressive terms). On the contrary, it is an ongoing open-ended process which often involves disruptive, contested, controversial, messy pathways from one state to another. This may help to acknowledge the ever-changing nature of mobility modes in the past and present, path dependencies or persistences over time, and to account for technologies’ relation to political and economic regimes and discourses, narrations, art, pop culture and media representations of those transformations in the public sphere.

Understanding mobility, traffic and transport infrastructure, “ground-breaking” technologies and their everyday usages and routines from a transformation perspective also means considering the practical feasibility of its implementation and associated conflicts: Under what social conditions will the transformation of the mobility system and transport infrastructure be politically possible and accepted? And conversely: Do current and historical social change processes support the transformation of the transport systems of their own accord? And if so, will this transformation actually lead to ecological sustainability?

The conference aims to understand the notions of transition and transformation of mobility and infrastructures, emphasizing the need to understand current changes in the light of the historical transformations of mobilities, but also other fundamental social and economic-technical change processes, e.g., in the course of industrial revolutions, through colonial modernization, or after the fall of state socialism. Furthermore, the conference aims to highlight diverse and pluriverse visions on the departure points as well as desired and envisioned futures of mobility transformations, particularly welcoming subaltern voices, often overlooked because of gender, class, race, and otherness.

With this in mind, we invite specialists from the arts, social sciences and humanities, as well as engineering and technology, and wholeheartedly welcome contributions from any other disciplinary background. Alongside practitioners, artists and activists, we want to discuss the changing and conflicting interrelations between mobilities, infrastructures, technology, ecology, urbanism, across times and places, for a better understanding of past, current and future infrastructure and mobility transformations. We are looking for proposals for papers and sessions on one or more of the following topics / areas of study, although all contributions are welcome:


- Contestations around mobility and infrastructures
- Longue durée perspectives on green transitions
- Mobility and infrastructures in front of climate emergency
- Time, temporalities, transitions
- Mobility technologies: technical fix, technological pessimism, shock of the old, and resistances to it
- Global and regional approaches, including e.g. post-Soviet or Sub-Saharan perspectives
- Global politics and geopolitics of mobility and infrastructures
- Mobility transition versus mobility transformations
- Imperial, trans-imperial and (post)colonial infrastructures
- Metaphors of mobility – highway, railroad, route and network.
- Mobility in culture: literary, musical, artistic perspectives
- Arts and creativity towards transformation
- Activism around mobility and infrastructures
- Mobilities on the margins and mobility justice: Race, gender, ethnicity, disability and othering

Proposals may cover individual papers, panels, artworks, posters, and other creative formats. We welcome relevant contributions from any academic perspective or discipline, from professionals, policymakers and practitioners in the transport, traffic, and mobility field, as well as artists and creative professionals, designers, engineers, and educationalists in the art and humanities. A limited number of travel grants will be available for participants without access to institutional funding, particularly from low-income countries.

The conference language is English. The conference is in presence only. Keynote lectures will be streamed online.

Timeline | Important Dates

07 April – Deadline for the submission of individual abstracts and special sessions
15 April – Notification of acceptance for abstracts and sessions
1 May – Submission for travel grant
1 June – Notification of acceptance for travel grant
1 June – Early Bird registration opens
1 July – Early Bird registration closes
1 August – Submission of full papers and posters
23–25 September – Conference

More information on submission formats, registration, travel grants, and conference committee on the T2M website: https://t2m.org/2024-conference-call-for-paper/

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