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Rail Networks, Mobility, and the Cultures of Cities

Introduction to the Special Section

Steven D. Spalding

Scholars writing about railway mobility have pointed to the rails' impact on the culture of cities, while urban theorists and critics have cited the crucial importance of movement and mobility to how cities are lived. A truly interdisciplinary approach, which balances the priorities of mobility studies and urban studies, and informs itself through compelling cultural artifacts (including visual, literary, or other media) offers insight into the processes of urban cultural production and their close link to the discursive valences of urban rail mobility.

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Mauro Tebaldi

On 5 December 2009, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, together with

the director-general of the Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), Mauro Moretti,

officially opened the new high-speed/high-capacity railway line, linking

Turin, Milan, and Salerno at the central station in Milan. The

work, which had taken almost 40 years to complete, had involved

the laying of just less than 1,000 kilometers of track that is specially

designed to carry high-speed trains. The following day, the high-speed

train service provided by Trenitalia began operating on the line with

the latest ETR (Elettro Treno Rapido) 500 Frecciarossa and ETR 600

Frecciargento trains. The year 2010, therefore, marked the official

operational start of the project that had first been drawn up by FS in

the early 1960s with the aim of providing high-speed rail links for the

main Italian cities along a north-south axis in response to two clear

challenges—the growing competition from airlines and an increasing

preference for road use.

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The ethnographic negative

Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity

Bruce O’Neill

overlooking the parking lot of the Gara de Nord railway station in Bucharest, Romania. Dani, Razvan, and Razvan’s partner, Ioana, met at “the Gara” a decade earlier as young teenagers. They had fled deepening poverty and immiseration in the countryside as

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Introduction

The Return of Transport Coordination

Gustav Sjöblom

The coordination of transport was heavily debated in the interwar period, as mechanized road traffic for the first time posed a serious challenge to the railways as the backbone of the transport system. The main issues of the interwar period bear resemblances with current challenges for transport policy, and historical studies may improve our understanding of contemporary transport coordination. This introduction sets the stage by discussing the concept of transport coordination and its historiography.

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"Traffic"

On the Historical Alignment of Media and Mobility

Dorit Müller and Heike Weber

In a nineteenth century context, traffic could mean both communication and the transportation of goods and people. For instance, the German term “traffic” (Verkehr), referred to “communicating” (verkehren) and to “traffic”/“transportation” (Verkehr). Historically speaking, before the age of telegraphy, any communication over distance required the physical transport of a message or a messenger. Many authors, thus, identified the latter as a fundamental caesura in the relationship between media and mobility, uncoupling media from their previous reliance on physical movement. At the same time, telegraphy and the railway formed a paradigmatic symbiosis that enforced the ongoing duality between media and mobility: traffic depended on and sometimes boosted communication and vice versa. Hence, traffic and media were not disconnected as such, but their connections were rearranged and new ones emerged while others such as the postal services persisted.

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Introduction

Images of Power and the Power of Images

Judith Kapferer

Symbols of power in diverse areas of public life surround us, from insignificant street signs and little-known corners to grand monuments and great buildings. Concrete expressions of abstract conceptions—churches (religion), seats of government (Parliament), railway stations (transport policy), shopping malls (commerce), and newsvendors (mass media), for instance—are regularly translated from these solidities into ideas, for the most part unthinkingly. Images of the control and ownership of public space in everyday matters have great significance in the conduct of human affairs—social, political, and cultural—and they dominate our generally accepted beliefs in the order of things. As we move through and around our work and leisure places, memorials, and construction sites, we rarely pause to contemplate the symbolic meanings of these spaces. Instead, we take the fact of their actual forms for granted, allowing for a glossing over of their symbolism. This is the force of the ‘social imaginary’ (see Taylor 2004), a phenomenon that will be explored in this issue as part of an ongoing examination of the relation between the arts and the state (see Kapferer 2008).

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Public Health in Eastern Europe

Visible Modernization and Elusive Gender Transformation

Evguenia Davidova

and diminished funding. Similarly, Angelika Strobel argues that the emergent railway medicine in late imperial Russia, as part of the state-building process, tried to use statistics “as a tool of governance,” but was not effective in constructing a

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Gijs Mom and Georgine Clarsen

transport. Articles on railways, walking, and bicycling were not represented last year. But what is most important is that we had four articles (nearly a quarter of all published) dealing with “mobility writ large,” articles either not on any specific mode

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Gijs Mom and Georgine Clarsen

,” as our mission states. Looking back at the topic areas in volume 5, we have never dealt with such a variegated palette of mobility modes (cars and roads, shipping, walking, railways, aviation, cycling, animal mobility, children’s mobility, and

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Pac'Stão versus the City of Police

Contentious Activism Facing Megaprojects, Authoritarianism, and Violence

Einar Braathen

suburban railway. The local train station played a key socioeconomic role for the area. As factories closed down during Rio's economic stagnation in the 1980s and 1990s, income was increasingly generated by people commuting to the more prosperous and