CfE – Mobile Utopia Experiments 1-2 November 2017

Call for Applications

The Mobile Utopia Experiment

1-2 November 2017

The Mobile Utopia Experiment is a creative pre-enactment of mobile utopia made concrete and personal in Lancaster, a medium-size university town. This is a call for applications to conduct an experiment on 1-2 November 2017.

What are mobile utopia experiments? Mobile Utopia experiments are ways of making futures inhabitable enough to experiment with new ways of working, living, thinking, making relationships, enacting responsibilities, playing, learning and so on. They could be thought experiments, facilitated through narrative, visualisations, scenarios, or modelling, they could be interactive performances, installations, artworks. Individual experiments must seek to engage members of the public (students and staff on campus, residents of Lancaster and Morecambe, visitors), and the more hands on they are, the better, because that invites more than discursive reflection and creativity, allowing embodied, social and sensory experimentation. The pre-enactment experiments should envisage how people, objects, ideas, resources will travel in a near-ish future of 2051 and make pockets of such futures inhabitable. They might explore, for example:

  • the social life and moral order of traffic as it increasingly incorporates ‘driverless’ mobile pods, a vertical dimension, as well as more walking and cycling
  • social and material practices of mobilities of work, home and leisure
  • the im|material im|mobilities of plastic, bacteria, CO2, aerial particulates, data

Have a look at some examples on our website.

Who can run a mobile utopia experiment? Anyone who has an academic collaborator at Lancaster University. To become part of the big Mobile Utopia Experiment, please submit an application by 5th June (the link to the Application Form is available on the website). At least one of your team must attend the two UtopiaLabs on 28th June and 28th September at CeMoRe, and you must (re-)run your experiment 1-2 November 2017 during the big Mobile Utopia Experiment. A small number of bursaries (a maximum of £700 per project) are available, please indicate whether you need support (and how much) on your application form.

What makes them mobile? Mobile utopia experiments are mobile in two senses: firstly, they come at ideas of utopia/dystopia with an analytical orientation to movement, blocked movement, moorings, stillness, speed, slowness. These might be mobilities of people, objects, information, ideas, microbes, no limits. Secondly they ‘move in’ or ‘into’ the future, they use mobile, inventive methods to move with people, objects, information, and allow researchers and participants to be moved.

Why ‘mobilise’ utopia? We ‘mobilise’ utopia as method in Levitas’ sense, because it allows us to ‘stay with the troubles’ (Haraway 2016) of mobility systems and experiment with social futures (Urry 2016). Mobilising utopia as method encourages critical, ethically reflexive and creative inquiry and it is integrative, making the ‘systemness’ of forms of everyday life available for reflection and change. For more information about our motivations, see online.

The Mobile Utopia Experiment 1-2 November 2017

For a day and a half, the individual experiments will come together as one big Mobile Utopia Experiment – a series of ‘stations’ available on campus, online and in Lancaster.

People who participate will experience the experiments as activities in a game – they can enter anytime during the 1.5 days, for as long as they like. They are the utopians, their task is to live and document a utopian everyday. They do what they normally do in a day, but they build in some of the experimental activities to ‘step into’ the future. Documentation of their engagement and reflections is part of the activity. Players gather badges at game stations. The three players with the biggest number of badges will receive prizes at the Mobile Utopia Conference Banquet.

To submit an experiment for the Mobile Utopia Experiment please complete the application form online.

To participate in the Mobile Utopia Experiment and the analysis (but not run your own experiment) join the Bonfire School (see online for details).

Note that the Mobile Utopia Experiment is one of several events and we would be delighted to welcome you for the whole week.

There are many ways to participate:

1. Take part in all of it, the Bonfire School, the Mobile Utopia Experiment and the Mobile Utopia Conference 30th October – 5th November 2017
2. Join the Bonfire School to discuss your research and participate in the Mobile Utopia Experiment (you don’t have to bring an experiment) 30th October – 2nd November 2017
3. Make a Mobile Utopia Experiment and bring it to Lancaster 1-2nd November 2017


We’d be delighted to meet you. Please follow the links on our website for instructions. For the events, early registration is recommended.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Monika, Carlos, Ian

Monika Büscher, Professor of Sociology

Director Centre for Mobilities Research

Associate Director for the Institute for Social Futures

Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, LA1 4YW

Office Hours: By Arrangement – Bowland North B14


Research Portal:

Twitter @mbuscher / Mobile +44 (0)7890 847166

Projects: SecInCoRe | BRIDGE | Mobile Utopia


Visit Cemore! We are proud to be hosting the joint T2M, Cemore and Cosmobilities ‘Mobile Utopia’ Conference 2-5 November 2017 in Lancaster



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