Video Abstract – “Cycling Lungs: Understanding Mobile Subjectivity as Enfleshed”

We’re delighted to share another video abstract from our January 2022 issue, Antipode 54(1) – A.C. Davidson talking about their new open access paper, “Cycling Lungs: Understanding Mobile Subjectivity as Enfleshed”.

We spoke with Anna about their research – what it’s about and why that matters – and as well as reading their words, below you can take a ride through Los Angeles with them, and get a real sense of the meaning and value of “riding theory”.

Cycling is widely seen as an affordable way to reduce carbon emissions and enhance health. One way in which cycling research, policy and activism seeks to promote cycling is by “making space” for cycling through infrastructure and encouraging safe driving and cycling behaviours. Bringing material and Black feminist theory together with ethnographic fieldwork on urban cycling in Los Angeles in 2014–2015, I suggest that mobile subjectivity can be understood through the process of enfleshment, rather than centring on individualised cycling embodiment.

Cycling interventions that focus on behaviour and infrastructural change promote a very particular understanding of the body (as an individual with rights and ownership) and justice (as criminal or legal justice). Instead, I argue that the body could be understood – just as lungs are – as exposed to and dependent on other bodies and environments, and that these exposures are always influenced by the structures we live in (e.g. racism, sexism, capitalism). Thinking with enfleshment contributes to cycling advocacy, mobility justice and geographical theory on the body by shifting how mobile subjects are understood and how difference, justice and the politics of the street are imagined and practised.

A.C. Davidson is a Lecturer in Human Geography in the Department of Biological and Geographical Sciences at the University of Huddersfield. Their research centres on the intersections of social justice and sustainability, with a particular focus on critical theory and feminist geographies. In 2017 they completed their PhD (at the University of Oxford) on the body and relations of power in urban cycling in Los Angeles. Using multi-method qualitative research, this project investigated the linkages between cycling and gentrification, unequal urban exposures and neoliberal subjectivities – as well as movements to resist these. Anna has recently published research on radical mobilities, occupying and resisting hostile environments, and the relationships between microbes and non/human beings, in the journals Progress in Human Geography and Feminist Media Studies, and in the edited book With Microbes.