Individual Paper: Com-mobility through being-with: A feminist encounter with the transformative potentials of hitchhiking
Nowadays, to be modern is to be mobile. This resonates well with the characteristics of a neoliberal era – shaped by the individualized, autonomous, self-directing and decision making agent finding its fulfilment in the hyperindividualized ownership of a car. However, other modes of transport are possible, such as hitchhiking. In this paper, I seek to investigate this means of transportation which has lost public attention throughout the past 30 years but is nevertheless practiced in various countries. Having played with a feminist-autoethnographic approach, which included hitchhiking through Germany and Austria for two weeks in June 2017, complemented by semi-structured interviews with hitchhikers and lift-givers, I examined in how far the encounter of hitchhiker and lift-giver in the intimate, confined space of the car engenders potential for both negotiating difference and facilitating dialogues among different people in their everyday lives, and what dynamics of transformation unfold through that. This research allowed me to show how the state of being-with, that serves as a credo during the practice of hitchhiking and necessarily emerges inside the car between hitchhiker and lift-giver, opens up spaces for various forms of transformation: transformation of discursively produced gender differences, stereotypes, risk perceptions and normalized concepts of unsustainable mobility. These findings invite to discuss in what ways hitchhiking as a means of transportation creates new understandings of travelling that align with concepts of degrowth through their focus on com-mobility rather than auto-mobility and through fostering solidarity in everyday life.
Start time: 11:15
Room: ABF (210)
Track: Degrowth: Culture, Power and Change