Developing a framework for the spaces and spatialities of transportation and mobilities

Julie Cidell, Devon Lechtenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent debates over space and spatiality have touched on a variety of different fields within geography but have rarely considered transportation or mobilities. Mobile objects and actors can be seen as occupying space only temporarily; as constructing space through their travels (including waiting to travel); as being present and absent before, after, and during their travels; or a host of other possibilities that complicate the geographer’s basic question: What is where? A theoretical consideration of the spatialities of transportation and mobilities could offer new analytic tools not only for scholars in these areas but for those interested in the production of space more broadly. It also offers the possibility to bring together transportation geography and mobilities under one framework. This article draws on the work of Kamil Skrbek, a Czech geographer active in the twentieth century, to explore four kinds of spaces: spaces of movement, spaces of transportation, structural transportation space, and areas of transportation. These four types include different extents infrastructure, vehicles, and passengers; places through which these objects pass or bypass; social, cultural, and economic discourses and meanings; and lived experiences of those within and outside of various transportation networks. Using the example of the shipment of crude oil by rail within North America, we explicate how these different spaces are relevant to the issue and what they offer to an analysis of this important topic that existing approaches cannot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Infrastructure
  • Mobilities
  • North America
  • Oil by rail
  • Space
  • Spatiality
  • Trains
  • Transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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