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On Turbulence: Entanglements of Disorder and Order on a Devon Beach



This paper considers the importance of the notion of turbulence for the theorisation of mobility. Turbulence, as disordered and unpredictable mobilities, can be contrasted with smooth ‘laminar’ flow – where everything is moving ‘correctly’. This paper borrows from the philosophies of Michel Serres and Manuel DeLanda to think about turbulence as a process which makes visible the always-contingent orderings of infrastructural mobilities. The paper is illustrated with examples from container shipping and, particularly, the grounding of the MSC Napoli container ship off the coast of Southern England. Turbulent mobilities are contrasted with the smooth operation of infrastructural mobilities that are supposed to remain silent and invisible. The dramatic and very visible instances of turbulence, that no system can ever predict or make disappear, provide an entry point into the ordering of a mobile world.