This issue of Transfers features five individual essays critically engaging with the promises promoted alongside new methods and purposes of mobility. Two essays, Martin Emanuel’s “From Victim to Villain: Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980” and Andrew V. Clark and colleagues’ “The Rise and Fall of the Segway: Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation,” circle around a core theme of Transfers with their fresh look at transportation, its vehicles, and its methods; two others, Noah Goodall’s “More Than Trolleys: Plausible, Ethically Ambiguous Scenarios Likely to Be Encountered by Automated Vehicles” and Gal Hertz’s “From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling: Hans Gross, Mobility and Crime around 1900,” look at mobility’s social side. Fascinatingly consistent are the adjectives and adverbs that qualify the promises that are made for these technologies. Segways, for instance, were sustainable, enviro-friendly, shared. Smart, personalized, and robotic are some of the commonly invoked terms in the growing literature on this particular PMD (personal mobility device). Adverbial are the benefits of automated driving too: safe and liberating, both values desired by a nineteenth-century urbanized Austrian society that imagined the city as a space of settled inhabitants free of migrants and hence also free of crimes.
As announced in our most recent editorial, this issue of Transfers features a series of reflections on the role of movement and mobilities in the fields of history of science, technology, and medicine. Four major collaborative projects in different stages of completion are introduced: “Moving Crops and the Scales of History”; “Individual Itineraries and the Circulation of Scientific and Technical Knowledge in China (16th–20th Centuries)”; “Migrating Knowledge”; and “Itineraries of Materials, Recipes, Techniques, and Knowledge in the Early Modern World.” Over the past few years, historical research on scientific and technological change and movement has altered substantially in form and content. Many projects have taken on a collaborative format as globalization and global exchange methodologies advanced and brought about an increased awareness of geographies, cultural differences, and postcolonial debate but also as sources became increasingly visible and available through digital means and researchers themselves became more mobile. The four examples selected can inevitably provide only a glimpse into this changing landscape and were chosen as offering a representative geographic coverage of European and US American scholarship in which, however, colleagues from a wide range of areas including India, South America, and Asia were involved.
Rosa E. Ficek, Shanshan Lan, Walter Gam Nkwi, Sarah Walker, and Paula Soto Villagrán
Decentering the State in Automobility Regimes
Kurt Beck, Gabriel Klaeger, and Michael Stasik, eds., The Making of an African Road (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 278 pp., 34 illustrations, $78 (paperback)
Understanding Globalization from Below in China
Gordon Mathews, with Linessa Dan Lin and Yang Yang, The World in Guangzhou: Africans and Other Foreigners in South China’s Global Marketplace (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 256 pp., $27.50 (paperback)
Rethinking Mobility and Innovation: African Perspectives
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, ed., What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 256 pp., 25 black-and-white illustrations, $36 (paperback)
When Is a Crisis Not a Crisis? The Illegalization of Mobility in Europe
Nicholas De Genova, ed., The Borders of “Europe”: Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 376 pp., $27.95 (paperback)
City, Mobility, and Insecurity: A Mobile Ethnography of Beirut
Kristin V. Monroe, The Insecure City: Space, Power, and Mobility in Beirut (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016), 204 pp., 7 photographs, $27.95 (paperback)
On Diving Mobility in Underwater Films (1920s to 1970s)
This article deals with the history of underwater film and the role that increased mobility plays in the exploration of nature. Drawing on research on the exploration of the ocean, it analyzes the production of popular images of the sea. The entry of humans into the depths of the oceans in the twentieth century did not revitalize myths of mermaids but rather retold oceanic myths in a modern fashion. Three stages stand out in this evolution of diving mobility. In the 1920s and 1930s, scenes of divers walking under water were the dominant motif. From the 1940s to the 1960s, use of autonomous diving equipment led to a modern incarnation of the “mermen“ myth. From the 1950s to the 1970s, cinematic technology was able to create visions of entire oceanic ecosystems. Underwater films contributed to the period of machine-age exploration in a very particular way: they made virtual voyages of the ocean possible and thus helped to shape the current understanding of the oceans as part of Planet Earth.
Three Views of Mobility from Africa
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Jeroen Cuvelier, and Katrien Pype
Africa-focused Perspective The articles included in this first special section were originally presented at an international workshop titled Technology and Mobility in Africa: Exploring a New Analytical Field, which we organized at the University of
Discursive Assertions of Mobility Futures
gendered automobile subjects and of the car as a gendered object. The Gendered Automobile Subject In science and technology studies (STS), the understanding of artifacts as embodying social relations—rather than seeing technological objects as neutral or
Mobility Studies, a Transdisciplinary Field
commitment to multiplicity as a methodological strength and the necessity to write about mobilities past, present and future. Experts of human geography, arts, Asian studies, and gender—as well as the history of science and technology, film, and media
A Degendered or Resegregated Future System of Automobility?
Dag Balkmar and Ulf Mellström
wheel to a computer can also, as Berscheid suggests, be viewed as changing “the gendered roles of cars and their drivers as well as their relationship with each other.” 12 The new technology is about to repudiate drivers’ power over their vehicles and
An Essay Exploring Dominant Values and Representations of the Driver in Driverless Technology
many constituencies to achieve safer mobility for all. Smarter vehicle technology is clearly the future, and the desire to combine this with safer, more efficient systems is gaining momentum against the constant push for greater speeds. This article
Judith A. Nicholson and Mimi Sheller
. 26 Through the use of these innovative “clean” vehicles, whiteness became linked with new technology, speed, and industrial modernization. According to Geoff Zylstra, “The measure of control that streetcar companies and conductors exerted over the