I Can't Breathe: Metabolising (im) mobile antisocialities

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The mediation, political socialisation and mobilisations of the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ became the slogan for 2020.‘I can’t breathe’ were the words repeated multiple times by George Floyd, an African American man, held down, immobilised, choked and killed by a police officer in the US on May 25th 2020. 'I can’t breathe' was the phrase politically socialised through #Black Lives Matter and mobilised through globalised media coverage of demonstrations that erupted after George Floyd’s death during the COVID 19 (2020) pandemic and its associated lockdowns. ‘I can’t breathe’ were also the last words of Eric Garner, who was also subjected to a choke hold by New York City police in July 2014. 'I can't breathe' is also a slogan used by Climate Justice campaigners and not being able to breathe is the prime symptom of having the COVID 19 virus. This chapter cycles through some of the intersectional mediations of ‘I can’t breathe’ as a starting point to breathe life into an emergent analytical framework for immobile antisocialities which I argue is not separate from but part of mobile socialities. Drawing on multi-disciplinary approaches beyond media studies to create a conceptual framework, the chapter gives air to elements that are immobile and antisocial. The chapter asks, how do we understand the experience of interruption and amplified displacement that may include frictions, accidental or deliberate, of locative, temporal and social breakage experienced during stoppages of movement, which we might conceptualise as immobile socialities? How do we understand what happens to sociality when the possibility of movement of people, but not data or things, is curtailed, as in the COVID 19 lockdown, as result of protests and blockades or as a result of police or security checkpoints on top of the barriers of racist micro-aggressions and deeply inherited structural barriers which we might call immobile antisocialities?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Mobile Socialities
EditorsAnnette Hill, Maren Hartmann, Magnus Andersson
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print) 9780367543976
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
EventInternational Communication Association Annual Conference: Conference Panel: Mobile Socialities and the Mediation of Care - University of Colarado , Denver, United States
Duration: 27 May 202131 May 2021
Conference number: 71


ConferenceInternational Communication Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleICA
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Mobility
  • sociality
  • racism
  • climate justice
  • COVID 19
  • immobility
  • antisociality


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