Compassionate Mobilities: Towards a Theory for Negotiated Living

Ong, Adelina (2018) Compassionate Mobilities: Towards a Theory for Negotiated Living. Doctoral thesis, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.


Compassionate mobilities works towards a theory for negotiated living inspired by urban practices like parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’ and graffiti. It explores compassionate ways of being together, in a shared place. The need for compassionate mobilities might be seen most clearly in the hypercompetitive pursuit of upward income mobility through education in Singapore. Fear is the main political affect that drives this hypercompetitiveness. There is now an opportunity for Singaporeans to actively shape a more hopeful and compassionate narrative of future Singapore. However, this imagination of the future is hindered by a deep sense of loss. Compassionate mobilities is an emerging theory that proposes how we might live together, in a place shaped by fear and loss, negotiating different hopes for this shared place. Compassionate mobilities works towards tempering these hopes (an imagination of the future that compels interventions in the present) with compassion and proposes an imagination of the future as multispatialities (a term I use to describe a way of imagining the future as multiple places, holding multiple narratives, coexisting in the same location).

Observations of parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’ and graffiti offered some initial ideas towards compassionate mobilities. Over 25 workshops in London and Singapore, these urban art-inspired place practices formed the basis of a theory of compassionate mobilities. These workshops were undertaken with young people between the ages of 15 and 25, mostly in school settings. Part I will focus on establishing the theoretical and contextual basis for compassionate mobilities. Part II will offer some ideas for the negotiation of place using urban art-inspired place practices to initiate compassionate relationships and alternative imaginations of the city that are not constrained by fear and loss.


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