Climate Refugees, Kinetic Elites, and the Struggle for Mobility Justice: Lecture by Mimi Sheller

Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 4:30 pm
Open to the Public
Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

Mobility justice is one of the crucial political and ethical issues of our day, when the entire world faces the urgent question of how to make the transition to more environmentally sustainable and socially just mobilities. All around the world urban, regional, and international governing bodies are grappling with a series of crises related to how we move, exacerbating the rise of reactionary ethnonationalist exclusion, securitization of international borders, and the overthrow of existing humanitarian protections of refugees, especially in the United States under the Trump administration. 

Drawing on the “new mobilities paradigm” and the theorization of "mobility justice" (Sheller 2018) this talk connects debates over sustainable low-carbon transitions to wider issues of unequal global mobility regimes and the governance of differential mobilities. It shows the connections between the predicted growth of “climate refugees” and the environmental impacts of resource extraction to support the lifestyles of “kinetic elites.” I argue that a more robust and comprehensive theory of mobility justice can help us address the combined crises of climate change, unsustainable mobilities, and transnational migrations.

Mimi Sheller, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and founding Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is founding co-editor of the journal Mobilities and past President of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility. She is author or co-editor of twelve books, including forthcoming Island Futures: Caribbean Survival in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press, 2020); Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes (Verso, 2018); Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity  (MIT Press, 2014); Citizenship from Below (Duke University Press, 2012); Consuming the Caribbean (Routledge, 2003); and Democracy After Slavery (Macmillan Caribbean, 2000).  As co-editor with John Urry of Tourism Mobilities (2004) and Mobile Technologies of the City (2006) and author of numerous highly cited articles, she helped to establish the new interdisciplinary field of mobilities research.  

She was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa from Roskilde University, Denmark (2015). She has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the MacArthur Foundation, the Mobile Lives Forum, and the Graham Foundation in Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She has held Visiting Fellowships at the University of Miami (2019); the Annenberg School of Communication at University of Pennsylvania (2016); the Penn Humanities Forum (2010); the Center for Mobility and Urban Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark (2009); Media@McGill, Canada (2009); the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University (2008); and Swarthmore College (2006-2009).

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