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Durham e-Theses
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Mobile bodies: train travel and practices of movement

David Bisseli, (2007) Mobile bodies: train travel and practices of movement. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis investigates experiences of railway travel from a passenger perspective by looking at how passengers move through and dwell within spaces of the railway journey. It responds to a lack of attention to diverse processual enactments and theorisations of processes and practices that constitute these flows. Challenging both the theory that this particular 'space of flows' constitutes a non-place that is characterised by placelessness, and theories that rely on aggregate models of movement that serve to pacify the body, this thesis speaks to the neglected transient experience that acknowledges how the railway journey is continually brought into being by passengers through practice rather than given a-priori. It is based on in-depth empirical research that focuses on long-distance, intercity journeys as a particular space of flows. It develops a descriptive, multi-method approach to investigate what a travelling body is and how a body becomes a travelling body; how and to what extent travel-time is planned, organised, used and valued; and how the experience of time and space transform over the duration of a journey. For many, and contrary to economically-productivist studies, the railway journey is not a wasted time, but is valued and put to use in a variety of different ways that fold through and are integrally-linked to the commitments, motivations and obligations of other time-spaces. The resulting heterogeneity of practices within the confined space of the railway carriage also has significant implications for the sociality and forms of responsibility that develop. However, certain parts of the journey are more valuable than others and within this space of flows are many durations of immobility and passivity. Nevertheless, and contrary to other practice-based studies that privilege the body-in-action, passivity does not necessarily constitute a weak form of inhabiting the world. This research demonstrates how multiple configurations of passivity come into play at different points during the railway journey to assist in making the process of travel easier. In sum, this thesis mobilises new ways of looking at transient spaces which attempt to move beyond a sedentary metaphysics of space.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:32

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