AAG CFP 2022

Moving Forward: Researching Transportation and Mobilities during a Pandemic

It is hard to imagine that there is a facet of transportation and mobility studies that has not been touched by COVID-19. Even if you are not directly studying the pandemic, it has almost certainly affected your object of study. Migration, commuting, recreation, freight, tourism, and more have been put on pause, dramatically altered, or even shut down. Data collection has been noticeably affected: for qualitative work, methods of gathering data had to be modified or substituted (or canceled), and for quantitative work, an asterisk will remain near any data collected in 2020 (and perhaps beyond). For many people, there was simply no time to conduct research or analysis, with projects put on hold due to familial or extra work obligations. In any case, research projects have had to be rethought—along with many of our basic assumptions and understandings about transportation and mobility.

This session is partially inspired by the Mobilities journal issue from 2011 about the disruption of air travel by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which prompted European geographers trapped after the 2009 AAG meeting in Washington, DC, to think about disruption and mobility in new ways. In contrast, however, papers in this session are not necessarily about the effects of COVID-19 on transportation and mobility (although that is a possibility). Rather, we are looking for papers on transportation and mobilities research that was being conducted or was being planned prior to COVID-19 but has had to change somehow, and how researchers are coping with that change:

  • Perhaps your work is on hold until the long-term effects of the pandemic are better known (e.g., public transit ridership, commuting patterns).
  • Perhaps your data collection was disrupted and you had to come up with alternate ways of gathering data and are now thinking through how to triangulate disparate sources (e.g., remote interviews vs. participant observation).
  • Perhaps you have developed a new research topic as a result of the pandemic (e.g., migration by work-at-home households to remoter, cheaper communities).
  • Perhaps you had work in progress but were not able to analyze it before the pandemic seemingly made it irrelevant (e.g., how young people learn to take public transportation).

In any case, we invite papers that both present some form of transportation or mobilities research *and* discussion of the research process and how it has been affected by the pandemic. The hope is that this session will help participants to think through their own research and the implications of COVID either directly on their subject matter, on the research process itself, or on how our understandings of transportation and mobilities are likely to be different from this point forward. In-person or virtual submissions are welcome; separate sessions will be assembled for each. Alternatively, if you would like to participate in a panel discussing these issues rather than present a formal paper, that is a possibility as well.

Abstracts or expressions of interest in a panel should be sent before October 18, 2021 to Julie Cidell at jcidell@illinois.edu.