23–25 September 2024, Leipzig, Germany
Organised by the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL), and Lancaster University, Leipzig, Germany. Final Conference of the CoMoDe Project (Contentious Mobilities: Rethinking Mobility Transitions through a Decolonial Lens)

Mobilities and Infrastructures: Transitions and Transformations

Modern societies are experiencing striking technological, ecological, socio-economic and cultural as well as political challenges – with mobility questions at the forefront of these contentions. Actors and institutions across the globe increasingly recognize the need for systemic changes in the ways goods, people, ideas, policies and capital are set in motion – usually framed in the terms of “mobility transitions”. Green deal policies are drafted and “just transition” funds are set up, acknowledging that transition to carbon-free futures will require substantial resources to succeed, but also to avoid uneven and unfair socio-spatial effects on nations, regions, cities, and rural places. Existing research has already criticized mobility transition policies for their narrow normative assumptions, their reliance on large-scale infrastructures and technological innovations, and elaborated on the concepts of mobility justice and commoning mobility as a way of devising collective and collaborative means of shaping mobility transitions (Cresswell et. al 2021; Sheller 2018). It is therefore time to interrogate how and in which ways have “mobility transitions” been framed in different places at different times in their multifaceted histories.

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Call for Papers for the international conference: CULTURE, INFRASTRUCTURE, MOBILITY


Sofia, 09–11 October 2023

The history of modern technological infrastructure spans over two centuries and includes heterogeneous phenomena: from railroads, sewerage and water pipes, to telecommunications and digital networks. Its construction resembles a techno-world where modern humans live free from the natural constraints of their existence. This is an environment with very different possibilities, problems, freedoms and dependencies. Large infrastructure projects have a decisive influence on social, economic, technical, societal and administrative processes in modern societies. They shape the relations between sedentariness and mobility, define the rhythms and styles of life, consciousness, self-esteem and identity of individuals and groups.

The development of infrastructures has a key relationship to historical change. Infrastructure projects depend on cultural conditions for their emergence, but they also have important consequences for cultural change. They are an instrument for domination and homogenization of territories, for interaction between anonymous individuals, and for the integration of social groups. Transportation and communication infrastructures transform “imagined modern communities” into a new social and techno-cultural reality. They have a strong integrative but also disintegrative function, contributing to the homogenization of populations, making them technological carriers of power ideologies: Eurocentric, colonial or nationalist.Finally, infrastructure projects have their own history: almost two hundred years of development. The progressivist ideology with which they have traditionally been associated has been criticized and reconsidered. But development has not come to a halt, techno- optimism has not disappeared. New, even more far-reaching infrastructure projects are taking the place of the old ones. The role of digital communication, the Internet galaxy and social networks for the integration and disintegration of late modern society is not yet explored: they offer new possibilities but perhaps also unimagined dangers.

We aim to explore the following topics:

  • Infrastructures, mobility, migrations: technological nomads, migration flows and “landscapes”, transnational hybrids and technology driven melanges.
  • Infrastructures, communication and geopolitics: colonization, decolonization, post- colonization, self-colonization, and their cultural impacts.
  • Infrastructures as instruments of social engineering and everyday governance.
  • Regulations and resistance in new digital mobility services: capital flows and power constellations.
  • Standardization, normalization, and homogenization: leveling of inequalities oremergence of new social inequalities and cultural asymmetries?
  • Public transport: mobility services in the face of new technologies and modernization policies; circuits of knowledge production, contested norms and notions of modernity.
  • Transformation of infrastructures and the cultural history of cities: centers andperipheries, urban spaces, territories and imagination.
  • Historical evolution of infrastructures and evolving social and cultural competencies for their use.
  • Forms of infrastructure – forms of cultural imagination: changing concepts, rhetoricsand “aesthetics” of infrastructure (images of the machine; images of progress from secession to geometrism, constructivism and minimalism; retro aesthetics).
  • Infrastructure, acceleration, cultural impact. Accelerating infrastructures and their psycho-cultural impact on the individual. Decaying infrastructures, infrastructural disasters, and apocalyptic visions.

 Please send a 250-word abstract and a 50-word bio to L_Pozharliev@leibniz-ifl.de and jdamianova@gmail.com no later than 27th of June 2023.

The conference is free of charge. Graduates, doctoral students and participants with financial difficulties whose submissions have been accepted may apply for travel grants of up to € 250 (in the form of reimbursement). A limited number of grants are available and will be given on an individual basis. Applications should detail the cost of travel and the amount applied for in an email to l_pozharliev@leibniz-ifl.de.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Prof. Dr. Dirk van Laak, Chair at the Institute for 19th to 21st Century History, University of Leipzig
  • Prof. Dr. Arnold Bartezky, Head of the Department of Culture and Imagination, Coordinator of Art History at the Leibniz Institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig
  • Dr. Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde. Coordinator of the Research GroupMobilities and Migration and Head of the Leibniz Junior Research Group “CoMoDe”, Leipzig

Organising committee:

Dr. Lyubomir Pozharliev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde Postdoctoral researcher, member of the research group II of the Leibniz Science Campus “Eastern Europe – Global Area” (EEGA), Leipzig
Prof. Alexander Kiossev, Head of the Cultural Centre at Sofia University
Prof. Daniela Koleva, Department of History and Theory of Culture, Sofia University
Dr. Zhana Damyanova, Maison des sciences de l’homme et de la société, Sofia

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4th CASNiG Annual Conference 23-24 November 2023 at the IfL / Invitation and Call for Papers

The fourth annual CASNiG conference, organised by the CoMoDe research group and the Central Asian Studies Network in Germany, will take place in Leipzig, featuring a bright focus on the wide and multifaceted field of mobilities and the emerging global interconnectedness.

Mobility of people, goods, and ideas has been a central feature of research in and on Central Asia – from nomadic societies to post-independence labour migration; from the spread of Islamic religious practices to large infrastructure-led modernisation and connectivity projects, most notably under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union have deeply shaped the region’s mobility infrastructures and paradigms, as did the post-Soviet period of regional disintegration and economic constraints, as well as recent globalised, financialised and extractivist large-scale development-through-infrastructures endeavours.

For the upcoming conference, we conceive spatial mobility in its broadest terms, and include the multilayered and multiscalar, contemporary and historical mobility of people, goods, concepts, value(s), practices, information and data. Everyday movements, commuting, in- and outmigration, access to and negotiations of mobility regimes, infrastructures which enable or preclude mobility, and biographical approaches to migration decisions are all crucial aspects of what dynamically shapes Central Asian societies, and their interconnectedness within the world. We further address the interdependencies of mobilities and power relations, e.g. with regard to questions of justice, but also the interplay of mobility and socio-spatial processes of inclusion and exclusion, socially embedded norms and gender-specific social practices.


We welcome topics related – but not limited – to the following ones:

  • Mobility infrastructures and modernity discourses;
  • Physical and social memories of former systems of connectedness, and the emergence of new ones;
  • Modes and forms of production of mobility knowledge;
  • Mobility policies, solidarities, negotiations, resistances;
  • Mobility history, global(ising) transformation processes (and inequalities)
  • Interconnectedness of spatial and social mobility
  • Everyday mobility practices;
  • Methodological and epistemological considerations in researching mobilities, and mobile research


Participation in the conference is free of charge. A small contribution to cover catering expenses may be required. The organisers will strive to secure (limited) travel grants and accommodation support.

Please feel welcome to propose scholarly articles and pre-organised sessions, themed workshops, as well as artistic and practice-oriented contributions. We warmly welcome the participation of early career researchers, and will provide space for counselling and networking. We aim to produce a peer-reviewed special issue/edited volume from this conference.

The deadline for submissions of abstracts is 30 July 2023.

Please send the following details as a single PDF file to Stella Marie Köhler (m_koehler(at)leibniz-ifl.de), whom you can also address for all further inquiries related to the conference.

  •  Title;
  •  Abstract of your contribution (max. 250 words);
  •  Brief bio (max. 250 words);
  •  Contact information (name, affiliation, email address);
  •  Expression of interest in co-editing a follow-up publication.

Full draft conference papers should be submitted by 20 October 2023, at the latest.

Priority will be given to an on-site event in Leipzig, to facilitate post-pandemic exchange and network building. Hybrid options shall be evaluated in case of possible travel restrictions. The working language of the conference is English. Please approach us if you would like to hold your presentation in another language.


Wladimir Sgibnev | W_Sgibnev(at)leibniz-ifl.de
Stella Marie Köhler | m_koehler(at)leibniz-ifl.de


Knowledge Production in Public Transport: Georgian Symposium of the CoMoDe group

During the third weekend of March 2023, the team of the IfL project Contentious mobilities through a decolonial lens (CoMoDe) hosted – jointly with the Ilia State University – a Symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia. The name of the event was “Knowledge Production in Public Transport – Normativities. Actors. Outcomes”. Since Lela Rekhviashvili, a postdoctoral researcher within CoMoDe, had been studying the public transport reform in Tbilisi, her expertise in the field shaped the conceptual framework of the symposium. Furthermore, a former employee of the Tbilisi city hall – Elene Khundzadze – who was a fellowship-holder at IfL – amply contributed with to the conceptual and organisational preparation of the event.
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Open Call for Zhelezka Summer School: On the tracks through Central Asia

The CoMoDe research group is organizing and hosting the
Zhelezka Project: On the Tracks through Central Asia, an experimental mobile summer school which will happen on and off rails of the Central Asian region spanning Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and take place from August 19 until September 3, 2023.  Scholars, practitioners and artists are invited to participate and apply to the Open Call up from now.

The Experimental Mobile School aims to generate a unique space for young researchers’ networking and developing conceptual and methodological approaches.

During a two-week railway journey through Central Asia, they will be applying and enhancing novel, mobile methodologies for creating new knowledge about lesser-explored and multicultural places and exploring transport infrastructures, mobility regimes, and lives of communities along railways.

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Tbilisi Symposium “Knowledge Production in Public Transport – Normativities. Actors. Outcomes” – Public Programme

The CoMoDe research group cordially invites you to participate at the open programme of the upcoming Symposium “
Knowledge Production in Public Transport – Normativities. Actors. Outcomes.” happening in Tbilisi, Georgia from the 18th to the 21st of March and primarily taking place at Ilia State University Tbilisi.

We designed a public programme that showcases a selection of exciting talks, panel discussions and a special movie screening with international and local public transport enthusiasts, researchers, planners, officials, activists and artists. The listed events are open and accessible to all, no registration needed.

Find the Timetable PDF here: Public Programme Tbilisi

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Invitation to a CoMoDe Guest Talk with Chris Schimkowsky

On Wednesday the 22nd, the CoMoDe team will gladly welcome Chris Schimkowsky, a post-doctoral research fellow based in Tokio who will share some insights on his intriguing research with a presentation based on his chapter contributing to the soon-to-be-published PUTSPACE book.

The contribution goes by the title:

“Contestation and ‘control’ of problematic passenger behaviour on public transport: the case of didactic initiatives on Tokyo’s urban railway network”

Sharing vehicle and station space with others is a defining characteristic of public transport usage (Mattioli 2014; Tuvikene et al. 2021). In the context of this inherently public environment, passenger behaviour can easily emerge as problematic: inconsiderate or inappropriate behaviour such as occupying multiple seats or blocking carriage doors can negatively impact the transit experience of other public transport users and upset transport operations. But what exactly counts as passenger misconduct and how do public transport authorities engage with it? This presentation addresses these questions by examining media-driven educational initiatives promoting ‘good’ passenger behaviour. Taking transit etiquette poster campaigns by Japanese urban railway companies as a case study, the presentation argues that ideas of contestation and customer service allow for a more nuanced understanding of didactic interventions in passenger conduct than the notion of social control.

Christoph Schimkowsky is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. He was awarded a PhD in Sociological Studies from the University of Sheffield (UK) in 2022 for his work on poster campaigns employed by Japanese railway companies to inscribe behavioural expectations into public transport environments. Building on this, his current postdoctoral project explores the development of codes of transit etiquette on Tokyo’s urban railway network since 1945. Christoph was previously a Visiting Research Fellow on the HERA-funded PUTSPACE (Public Transport as a Public Space) project and holds degrees from SOAS (University of London), Waseda University, and the University of Göttingen. His research has appeared in Mobilities, Transfers, and Visual Communication, among others.

Hereby we warmly invite you to join us for this talk at IfL.

11:00, Wednesday, 22nd of February 2023
Room 317 – Leibniz Institut für Länderkunde,
Schongauerstraße 9, 04328 Leipzig, Deutschland

The presentation will be held in english.

We are happy to see you there!

Workshop Invitation: Roads to Happiness. Traffic Infrastructure in Southeast Europe, Hegemonic Discourse, and its Challenges

The CoMoDe team cordially invites you to the workshop “Roads to Happiness” held by the Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient in corporation with the Humboldt University Berlin, happening 16th to the 18th of March.

Next to many other exciting and diverse panel discussions, Lyubomir Pozharliev will contribute a talk on the topic of Eastern Trolleybuses vs. Western E-Buses whilst putting an emphasis on decolonial insights from Sofia. The talk will be part of the decolonial panel which is being held on Friday, the 17th of March, from 4 to 5 pm.
The workshop program is convened by Malte Fuhrmann and Hannes Grandits. 

Download the full program here:  Roads to Happiness Program

Open Call for Tbilisi Symposium

Open Call for Participants to the Symposium:
Knowledge Production in Public Transport – Normativities. Actors. Outcomes.
Tbilisi, Georgia, 18 – 21 March 2023

The Leibniz research group “CoMoDe – Contentious Mobilities: Rethinking Mobility Transitions through a Decolonial Lens” at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography welcomes participants to the interdisciplinary symposium “Knowledge production in Public Transport. Normativities. Actors. Outcomes”, which will take place from 18 to 21 March 2023 in Georgia´s capital Tbilisi.
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Buchpräsentation: Der Kampf um das Rioni-Tal im Spannungsfeld zwischen Politik und Zivilgesellschaft

Am 9. Dezember 2022 erschien Lela Rekhviashvilis neues Buch über ihre Forschung zur Protestbewegung von 2020 und 2021 im Kontext der Verteidigung des georgischen Rioni-Tals vor einem Staudamm-Projekt . Am 9. Dezember 2022 organisiert die Böll-Stiftung im Südkaukasus eine Buchvorstellung zur Publikation, welche auf Georgisch und Englisch gehalten wird und Online besucht werden kann. Es sprechen Lela Rekhviashvili (IfL) und Ia Eradze (Ilia State University). Mehr Informationen zur Veranstaltung und den Registrierungs-Link zur Online-Teilnahme finden Sie hier.
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