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Race and the Micropolitics of Mobility: Mobile Autoethnography on a South African Bus Service

Bradley Rink

Keywords: autoethnography; bus transport; mobility; public transport; race; South Africa


Th is article takes an autoethnographic approach in exploring the micropolitics

of mobility with particular reference to race, class, and identity on one South

African bus service. For his daily commute between an inner-city Cape Town

suburb and a worksite near the metropolitan edge, the author explores personal,

embodied, and political dimensions of mobility in a context where race

continues to dictate the expected parameters of mobility practice. When socioeconomics

might allow for private car ownership and use (and when timegeographies

almost require it), the autoethnography at the heart of this article

requires the author to question the politics of choosing not to drive; to be a

public transport passeng er when one is expected to be a driver. In spite of the

author’s intentional status in the member group of bus passengers, experience

of six months of everyday bus use sheds light on hidden dimensions of mobility

inequality. It contributes toward filling a gap in empirical evidence on contemporary

bus passengering and the continuing role of race in contexts of visibly

diff erentiated and diff erentiating everyday mobility.

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