Sonic E-Mobility: Blindness and mobility technology assemblages

Track:
SENSORY ALTERITY/CRITICAL DISABILITY STUDIES I
What:
Talk
When:
12:00, Friday 7 May 2021 (30 minutes)
Discussion:
0

Robert Stock, University of Konstanz, Germany

Nowadays mobile technologies comprehensively shape walking as a socio-technical practice (Holton2019). Daily pedestrian mobility is enacted through the entanglement of people, senses, digital technologies and complex infrastructures. Non-visual forms of orientation and mobility are no exception. Blind walking with the long cane is increasingly connected with mobile devices, apps, digital maps and headphones. Instead of “tuning out” (Beer2007) of the urban sensorium, the mentioned mobile technologies allow for “tuning in” in the sense that they relate blind walkers with points of interest and render information about sites ‘out of ear’ knowable. These forms of sonic e-mobility are embedded within a noisy framework often masking cues important for navigating known or unknown routes. Furthermore, (blind) pedestrians are confronted with a rising number of rather silent electric vehicles. Against this background, I will explore some of the implications of mobility technology assemblages for blind people and demonstrate how “media technologies are often implicated in the emergence of bodies as ‘able’ or ‘disabled’ in a given moment” (Hagood2019). Unravelling the co-constitution of blind walking, sonic e-mobility and electric vehicles will allow me to emphasize how a future politics of movement (Sheller2018) necessarily has to consider the senses in their heterogeneous variability.

Presenter
Humboldt University Berlin