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“Beachten Sie die Lücken”: Reviewing the Cultural Histories and Geographies of Public Transport in Berlin

Samuel Merrill

In Berlin’s U-Bahn an announcement cautions passengers: “Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante.” This fastidious rendition of the London Underground’s “mind the gap” warning reveals audio equivalencies between the two transport networks. However, the more numerous curved platforms of the Underground—originally designed for the shorter trains of the past—mean that its gaps are more pronounced than those of the U-Bahn. When it comes to the cultural investigation of each city’s broader public transport histories and geographies, the reverse is true. Unlike in London, public transport in the German capital has escaped the significant scholarly attention of historians in recent years.

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Expertise in the Anthropology of Roads

Cheryl Croshere

Along a mountainous stretch of Peruvian highway, the anthropologists Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox recount a conversation between highway engineers and their hotel caretaker that illustrates a needed shift in direction for the ethnography of roads and other infrastructures of transportation. In Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise, the two anthropologists convey the hotel caretaker’s concern that inexplicable and uncontrollable forces govern local mountains and sometimes claim the lives of drivers crossing high passes. “Even this house is haunted by ghosts,” she tells the engineers, who are staying with her as they conduct surveys to upgrade the highway. Are they aware of these forces, she wants to know, and do they believe in ghosts? The engineers laugh, and one speaks for the others when he says that no, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does believe in mathematics.

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Gender, Everyday Mobility, and Mass Transit in Urban Asia

Anru Lee

Mobility is a key word for understanding gender and class formation. In a recent review of feminism, gender, and mobility, historian Georgine Clarsen reminds us that movement never occurs through neutral physical space; it involves gendered bodies through gendered spaces, by means of transport technologies that are often deeply gendered. Furthermore, gendered meanings, practices, and experiences change greatly over time and location. For all these reasons, mobility is—and has to be—contextualized. This article takes inspiration from Clarsen and investigates recent literature on the issue of gender and everyday mobility in urban Asia across a number of academic disciplines.

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The German Automotive Industry since 1945: An Open Field of Research

Florian Triebel

The motorcar changed the modern world. While German inventors inaugurated the automotive era in the late 1880s, industrial production was scaled up first in France, followed shortly by the United Kingdom and the United States. Before World War II, the German automotive industry remained small, despite its central role in pioneering the technology. While around 3.8 million cars left U.S. plants in 1928, German manufacturers produced only 108,143 automobiles. The bulk of these vehicles were sold domestically, and as another indication of low German production, American companies built nearly a quarter of the German total in assembly plants they set up across Germany.

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Have the Good Times for Transport History Ended? A Scientometrical Study of Danish Transport History

Jørgen Burchardt

The main question for this article is: How has research in Danish transport history developed over time? How strong has research activity been, and what topics, theories, and methods have been used? A scientometrical method is used as the basis for this investigation. This is useful in understanding the development of trends within specific areas of study and tracking the dynamics of ongoing research. The article will use as its source material the published books on the topic of transport written about Denmark.

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Histories of Transport Labor, Modes of Circulation, and Mobile Subjects in South Asia

Tarini Bedi

Discussions of the historiography of mobility, circulation, and transport in South Asia, a region that covers the modern nation-states of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan, and Tibet, must begin with an acknowledgment of what has shaped broader historical approaches to this area. I begin by offering a brief overview of the rich, but also dominant area of focus in South Asian transport history, namely, a focus on the history of railways and on the colonial period as a watershed in South Asian transport innovation. This overview provides context to recent shifts in the transport historiography of South Asia. While focus on the history of railways was concerned with technological and economic ramifications of transportation networks and with debates over colonial governance, recent work reviewed here highlights social, cultural, and political implications of transportation within precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial settings. These newer works in cultural, economic, and labor history, literary studies, ethnohistory, global history, and anthropology acknowledge the significance of railways and existing work in transport history.

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How Are Aeromobilities Changing? Reviewing the Literature on European Airports

Jean-Baptiste Frétigny

Airports seem to be an endless ground for conceiving past and present (aero)-mobilities. Understood not only as air mobilities but also as the dominant mobility of international travel, aeromobilities offer an encompassing understanding of airports as sites of meaningful (im)mobilities of people, objects, ideas, and ideologies. These sites touch on more power relationships, across far larger and thinner scales of time and space, than the ones usually considered in the study of transportation places. As the first review on airport historiography in this journal showed, scholars have socially, politically, and culturally investigated airports in manifold ways, turning them into key transdisciplinary objects for the development of mobilities studies. In recent years, studies on European airports have been numerous. Few of these have engaged in deep historical analysis, although temporalities play a key role in airports. As spaces they are constantly changing, with terminals themselves being significantly more mobile than planes in terms of design and architecture. The existing literature misses links between the past and present times of airports.

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In Search of the RV

David Burel

Despite the ubiquity of recreational vehicles traveling America’s highways, only a few scholars have chosen to study them closely. This certainly cannot be because recreational vehicles (RVs) are not significant enough in their scope or scale to warrant attention. In fact, they are very prevalent, as demonstrated by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s estimate that 8.9 million American households own one. It certainly cannot be that their impact is not felt in many communities across the country in the form of branded RV parks, mega dealerships, and tourist destinations purposefully outfitted with all the hookups a land yacht captain requires. It is, therefore, hard to understand how such a highly visible transportation and recreation technology has remained largely invisible for many scholars, even among those working on related topics. The RV’s place in American society has only been studied in a piecemeal fashion, with contributions frequently authored by those outside the discipline of history. This article will review RV-related scholarship and suggest how the lacunae in our understanding of the RV phenomenon would best be filled.

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International Railways in Argentina: Rethinking International Relations and Regional Integration Studies in the Southern Cone

Alejandro Rascovan

The invention of railways in the nineteenth century changed the world, displacing older technologies and modifying how humans perceived space and time. Further, the implementation of the railroad coincided with the institutionalization of nation-states in Europe and the Americas. The creation of a nation consisted of three major tasks—formalizing national borders, creating institutions, and capitalizing on the international division of labor. Railways played a major role in each of these endeavors. They played a key role in aiding politicians and entrepreneurs in efforts to achieve specific economic growth and political consolidation. They also structured each country’s territory via infrastructural connection. Argentina and its neighbor countries each experienced these elements of railroad construction.

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Mobilities and Representations: A Conversation with Peter Merriman, Colin Divall, Sunny Stalter-Pace, and Tim Cresswell

Dhan Zunino Singh and Mikkel Thelle

As the centerpiece of the eighth T2M yearbook, the following interview about representations of mobility signals a new and exciting focus area for Mobility in History. In future issues we hope to include reviews that grapple more with how mobilities have been imagined and represented in the arts, literature, and film. Moreover, we hope the authors of future reviews will reflect on the ways they approached those representations. Such commentaries would provide valuable methodological insights, and we hope to begin that effort with this interview. We have asked four prominent mobility scholars to consider how they and their peers are currently confronting representations of mobility. This is particularly timely given the growing academic focus on practices, material mediation, and nonrepresentational theories, as well as on bodily reactions, emotions, and feelings that, according to those theories, cannot be represented or symbolized by words or images.