Politics & Political Theory

Molar and molecular mobilities: The politics of perceptible and imperceptible movements

In this paper, I examine the processes through which movements emerge and are rendered perceptible or imperceptible, building upon the writings of geographers, mobility scholars and philosophers who have sought to overcome or efface the binary of mobility/stasis without flattening differences or overlooking questions of ‘the political’. The paper does this by distinguishing between ‘molar’ and ‘molecular’ movements, drawing upon Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus to trace how perceptions of movement and stasis emerge in a world that is in process and becoming. The molar and molecular are not presented as opposed terms in binary tension, but as overlapping tendencies or ‘segmentations’. I argue that a focus on movements and political forces that are becoming-molar and becoming-molecular requires mobility scholars and political theorists to move beyond narrow definitions founded upon binaries of mobility/stasis, the political/apolitical, and micro/macro. In doing this, the paper seeks to advance debates in geography, mobility studies and contemporary philosophy on processual thinking, vibrant matter, micropolitics and the politics of affect. Drawing upon the example of the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank, I then examine how molecular movements and affects are important for understanding the multiple movements and complex materialities of seemingly static molar entities.

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Volume 37 Issue 1