Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Geography and Planning

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 98 pages) : color illustrations, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kate Coddington

Committee Members

Tom Narins, Christine Vassalo-Oby


metaphors, mobilities, moorings, Metaphor, Geography, Motion, Movement, Psychology of, Stability, Migration, Internal, Social mobility, Population Dynamics, Social Mobility, metaphor, motion, stability, internal migration, social mobility

Subject Categories

Geography | Philosophy | Reading and Language


Metaphors, alongside maps, are important tools in geography. More than just a form of figurative language which helps represent space, metaphors play a fundamental role in shaping geographical theory and practice. They have been shown to influence conceptual systems at both an individual and a disciplinary level. Many geographical terms, like “foothill” and “congestion,” contain metaphors in disguise. However commonplace, metaphors are nonetheless steeped in the circumstances of their formation. To better examine the implications and opportunities of their usage, I focus specifically on metaphors used in geographical literature on mobilities and moorings—those points at which mobilities come to a pause. How do metaphors shape our understanding of mobilities, moorings, and the livelihoods embedded in them? To answer this, I look at several different case studies and examine how metaphors address key considerations of the “new mobilities paradigm” such as the rhythm, experience, and friction of mobility. While metaphors reveal things about the history of geographic thought and the nature of the discipline itself, they also have real-life impacts. Therefore, I pay close attention to instances where metaphors either defend or do a disservice to the situations they represent. For example, musical metaphors for informal labor may invalidate it, while textile metaphors for informal transportation emphasize its adaptability and sustainability. By combining theory on metaphors with theory on mobilities, this unique approach examines the implications of representation while emphasizing the many opportunities metaphors present as a geographical tool.