Please find a call for paper for a virtual Special Issue in Transportation Research Part A below. The aim of the special issue is to introduce and systematize critical perspectives on transport and I hope it resonates with urban researchers in this group. Together with my fellow co-editors, we look forward to receiving your abstracts.
Call for papers
Virtual Special Issue
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Moving past sustainable transport studies:
towards a critical perspective on urban transport
Wojciech Kębłowski (Université libre de Bruxelles, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), [log in to unmask]
Kobe Boussauw (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), [log in to unmask]
Frédéric Dobruszkes (Université libre de Bruxelles), [log in to unmask]
The contemporary urban transport debate is increasingly versed in terms of “sustainable” development (Banister, 2008; Hickman, Hall, and Banister, 2013). While sustainable perspectives on transport seemingly place a variety of social and environmental issues on the agenda, they appear to seldom engage with the fundamentally political question of who ultimately participates in the making of the sustainable urban futures they advocate, and who ultimately benefits from them (Boussauw and Vanoutrive, 2017). Setting aside the issues of uneven socio-spatial distribution of transport-related costs and benefits, and paying insufficient attention to political-economic underpinnings of transport adds to wider trends of de-politicisation of the field (Kębłowski et al., 2016; Kębłowski and Bassens, 2017). As a result, on the one hand the transport debate remains centred on issues of utility, efficiency and economic growth, relying on “rational” planning and decision-making, utilising mathematical models and technical knowledge, approaching ultimately approaching its subject matter in a manner that could be best described as “neoclassical” (Dobruszkes and Marissal, 2002). On the other hand, in an apparent critique with “neoclassical” approaches, the sustainable perspectives on transport advance “smart” or “green” technological and behavioral innovations, rather than social and political ones. Thus, advocates of sustainable transport often bracket questions of uneven development, gentrification, class politics, and urban democracy (Reigner et al., 2013).
Therefore, in this special issue we propose to re-connect sustainable transport perspectives with explicit political-economic considerations. This challenge indicates that there is room for another strand of theorisations and approaches, to which we refer to as “critical,” as they derive from critical research in urban studies (Brenner, 2009), in their explicit focus on social, political, and economic relations that shape urban policies and practices (Schwanen, 2016; Shaw and Sidaway, 2011). Thus far, however, such critical perspectives continue to be fragmented, their fuzziness and frailty being mirrored by the lack of coherent critical agenda for actual transport policies.
Furthermore, although the outlined triad of neoclassical, sustainable, and critical transport can be applied to the various, usually successive phases in transport policy thinking in the Global North, deconstructing transport-related discourses in emerging economies or (post)conflict regions is far less straightforward (Pojani and Stead, 2017). On the one hand, transport technicians, planners, and policy makers in such regions are usually quite well aware about sustainable, even critical, mobility discourses that exist in developed countries. On the other hand, they are bound to facilitate economic growth that is essential to even basic levels of well-being, and do this by meeting any demand for more personal mobility, often regardless of their social and environmental impact.
Consequently, the main objective of the issue is to consolidate the critical agenda of transport. Thus, the issue gathers critical contributions that discuss theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying transport, and/or offer empirical analyses of specific sustainable transport policies, infrastructures, and practices, inquiring into their socio-spatial impact, political-economic embeddedness and the power relations and regulatory framework (by) which they are shape(d). This includes research into sustainable transport solutions as well as alleged “alternatives” to it, which claim to acquire a more progressive, inclusive and just character, yet are not impervious to the forces of “alter-washing” that attempt to institutionalize, hijack and align them to the transport status quo. We therefore invite papers that look beyond the narratives of technical “rationality”, “efficiency” and “success” that may obfuscate the politics of conceiving and implementing transport solutions. Finally, we hope to gather contributions from the global South as well as the global North, anticipating significant differences in terms of how the critiques of transport are locally created and tested.
In thus conceptualized Special Issue, we are looking for original and unpublished articles that embrace (without being limited to) the following topics:
• socio-spatial unevenness of (sustainable) transport policies
• political economy of transport systems, regimes and regulatory frameworks
• transport and class
• transport poverty, (in)justice and (in)equality
• citizen participation and the involvement of social movements in transport
• informal transport systems
Deadline for abstract proposals: 15th October 2017
Opening of the journal portal for full paper submissions: 1st December 2017
Deadline for full paper submissions: 31st January 2018
Final acceptance deadline: 31 December 2018
Issue of publication: early 2019
Before preparing your paper, you are first requested to submit an abstract via e-mail to Guest Editors ([log in to unmask]) who upon its acceptance will provide further instructions for writing a full-length paper. All submissions will go through the journal’s standard peer-review process. For guidelines to prepare your manuscript and for manuscript submission, please visit http://ees.elsevier.com/tra
For any inquiries, the prospective authors are encouraged to contact Guest Editors for feedback and comments about the topics of the research papers.
Banister, D. (2008). The sustainable mobility paradigm. Transport Policy, 15(2), 73–80.
Banister, D., & Hickman, R. (2013). Transport futures: Thinking the unthinkable. Transport Policy, 29, 283–293.
Boussauw, K. and Vanoutrive, T. (2017). “Transport policy in Belgium: translating sustainability discourses into unsustainable outcomes”, Transport Policy, Vol. 53, 11–19.
Dobruszkes, F., & Marissal, P. (2002). Réflexions sur l’usage des modèles dans les études de transport et les sciences sociales. Recherche-Transports-Sécurité, 74, 2–25.
Kębłowski, W., & Bassens, D. (2017). “All transport problems are essentially mathematical”: The uneven resonance of academic transport and mobility knowledge in Brussels. Urban Geography, in press.
Kębłowski, W., Bassens, D., & Van Criekingen, M. (2016). Re-politicizing Transport with the Right to the City: An Attempt to Mobilise Critical Urban Transport Studies. Brussels: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Cosmopolis.
Pojani, D. and Stead, D. (2017) (eds.). The Urban Transport Crisis in Emerging Economies, Berlin: Springer.
Reigner, H., Brenac, T., & Hernandez, F. (2013). Nouvelles idéologies urbaines. Dictionnaire critique de la ville mobile, verte et sûre. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
Schwanen, T. (2016). Geographies of transport I: Reinventing a field?, 40(1), 126–137.
Shaw, J., & Sidaway, J. D. (2011). Making links: On (re)engaging with transport and transport geography. Progress in Human Geography, 35(4), 502–520.
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