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“The World Is My Domain”

Technology, Gender, and Orientalism in German Interwar Motorized Adventure Literature

Sasha Disko

Following Germany's resounding defeat in the First World War, the loss of its status as a colonial power, and the series of severe political and economic upheavals during the interwar years, travel abroad by motor vehicle was one way that Germans sought to renegotiate their place in the world. One important question critical studies of mobility should ask is if technologies of mobility contributed to the construction of cultural inequality, and if so in which ways? Although Germans were not alone in using technology to shore up notions of cultural superiority, the adventure narratives of interwar German motorists, both male and female, expressed aspirations for renewed German power on the global stage, based, in part, on the claimed superiority of German motor vehicle technology.

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The French Quest for the Silent Car Body

Technology, Comfort, and Distinction in the Interwar Period

Stefan Krebs

Following Germany's resounding defeat in the First World War, the loss of its status as a colonial power, and the series of severe political and economic upheavals during the interwar years, travel abroad by motor vehicle was one way that Germans sought to renegotiate their place in the world. One important question critical studies of mobility should ask is if technologies of mobility contributed to the construction of cultural inequality, and if so in which ways? Although Germans were not alone in using technology to shore up notions of cultural superiority, the adventure narratives of interwar German motorists, both male and female, expressed aspirations for renewed German power on the global stage, based, in part, on the claimed superiority of German motor vehicle technology.

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Kurt Möser

The Porsche museum, opened in January 2009, was a “fast second” in the wave of new museums of German car companies.

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Johannes Pause

Holy Motors, France and Germany, 2012, Pierre Grise Productions, directed and written by Leos Carax, starring Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, and Michel Piccoli.

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Travelling Detectives

Twofold Mobility in the Appropriation of Crime Fiction in Interwar Germany

Christian Huck

This article is concerned with travelling detectives in two different but related senses. On the one hand, it considers the relevance of trains and other vehicles of mobility for detective fiction, both as a topic of fiction and a place of consumption. On the other hand, it registers that detective fiction has to “travel“ in a more abstract sense before the reading traveler can enjoy it. German publishers appropriated the genre, originally a nineteenth-century American and British invention, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Based on contemporary observations by German cultural critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer, the essay examines German crime-fiction dime novels from the interwar period, compares them to their American predecessors, and analyzes their relationship to mobility and cultural transfer. The text argues that the spatial mobility of the fictional detective is only possible in a specific cultural environment to which the moving but corporeally immobile reader has to be transferred imaginatively.

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Mobile Exceptionalism?

Passenger Transport in Interwar Germany

Christopher Kopper

The development of bus transport in European countries followed distinctly different paths. Unlike in the liberal economic regimes of the U.K. and the Netherlands, the German transport policy in the interwar years was characterized by a high degree of state intervention, of regulation and restrictions on inter-modal competition. The main purpose of the regulatory regime in Germany was to ensure the profitability of the national railroad, whereas the interests of passengers ranked second. Concessions for private inter-urban bus services were severely restricted by the political priorities for the railroad and the bus lines of the Postal Service.

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Migration, Transfer and Appropriation

German Pork Butchers in Britain

Margrit Schulte Beerbühl

Today foreign restaurants and food shops shape the culinary landscape of Britain. While the impact of post-war migration on the traditional eating habits of the British population has received some attention in historical research, the influence of former waves of immigrants has hardly been studied. This paper focuses on the immigration of German pork butchers and their contribution to the development of meat consumption in Britain. By looking at the pattern of migration it will be shown that migrants created geographically widespread networks in Britain. Within these networks they transferred skills, know-how and social capital. Through a complex process of adaptation and appropriation German sausages were incorporated into the British diet. This process involved natives as well as immigrants. The former had to overcome established food habits while the latter had to adapt their recipes to local taste preferences.

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The War of Legs

Transport and Infrastructure in the East African Campaign of World War I

Michael Pesek

This article describes the little-known history of military labor and transport during the East African campaign of World War I. Based on sources from German, Belgian, and British archives and publications, it considers the issue of military transport and supply in the thick of war. Traditional histories of World War I tend to be those of battles, but what follows is a history of roads and footpaths. More than a million Africans served as porters for the troops. Many paid with their lives. The organization of military labor was a huge task for the colonial and military bureaucracies for which they were hardly prepared. However, the need to organize military transport eventually initiated a process of modernization of the colonial state in the Belgian Congo and British East Africa. This process was not without backlash or failure. The Germans lost their well-developed military transport infrastructure during the Allied offensive of 1916. The British and Belgians went to war with the question of transport unresolved. They were unable to recruit enough Africans for military labor, a situation made worse by failures in the supplies by porters of food and medical care. One of the main factors that contributed to the success of German forces was the Allies' failure in the “war of legs.”

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Richard Vahrenkamp, The German Autobahn 1920-1945: Hafraba Visions and Mega Projects Peter Merriman

Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw, Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture Fabian Kröger

Ted Conover, Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today Rudi Volti

Pradeep Thakur, Tata Nano: The People's Car Thomas Birtchnell

Emmanuela Scarpellini, Material Nation: A Consumer's History of Modern Italy Massimo Moraglio

Kuntala lahiri-Dutt and David J. Williams, Moving Pictures: Rickshaw Art of Bangladesh Tracy Nichols Busch

Patrick Laviolette, Extreme Landscapes of Leisure: Not a Hap-Hazardous Sport Carroll Pursell

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Transfers between Media and Mobility

Automobilism, Early Cinema, and Literature, 1900-1920

Dorit Müller

The essay analyzes the interrelationship between media technologies and the development of mobility based on a concrete historical constellation—the emergence of automobilism and its representation in literature and film between 1900 and 1920. The focus lies on Western European countries and most notably on Italian and German literature as well as British, German, and French films. During that period, the portrayal of the automobile in these countries shows a dominant pattern: due to their speed, cars seem to embody a destructive power per se. This is expressed by numerous violence-related scenarios. However, the accentuation of destructive tendencies cannot only be described as a response to increased risks. Rather, they are a product of media technologies and media-specific aesthetics, too: film, establishing itself as a new media form experimenting with “dynamization“ and destruction; and literature, responding to the new visual media using dynamic language and the demolition of traditional poetic forms. Consequently, the noticeable surge in technology around 1900 created new and different types of mobility in the areas of transportation and media, influencing each other.