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.
Automobilism, Early Cinema, and Literature, 1900-1920
Seriousness is achieved when a speaker effectively moves the audience according to his or her intentions. But seriousness is fragile and subject to countless vicissitudes, as illustrated in an encounter with the television evangelist Oral Roberts. I interrogate one of the means used to counter such vicissitudes-hyperbole. Hyperbole may include exaggeration and amplification of all kinds, and may be manifest in deeds as well as words. I first follow hyperbole through 9/11 and the competing ideologies of Salafi jihadists and the Bush administration to show how 'absolute metaphors' are enlisted hyperbolically. I examine too how epic narratives are created as a similar form of hyperbole. Finally, I show how sacredness, another allied form of hyperbole, is attributed to the Holocaust in present-day Germany. Throughout I argue, and illustrate, how anthropological writing is of necessity ironic, such that irony is better than 'cultural relativism' as an understanding of the anthropological enterprise.
The Design Mode of Interwar Engineering in Belgium
Greet De Block and Bruno De Meulder
This article traces the implicit spatial project of Belgian engineers during the interwar period. By analyzing infrastructure planning and its inscribed spatial ideas as well as examining the hybrid modernity advocated by engineers and politicians, this article contributes to both urban and transport history.
Unlike colleagues in countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States, Belgian engineers were not convinced that highways offered a salutary new order to a nation traumatized by the First World War. On the contrary, the Ponts et Chaussées asserted that this new limited access road would tear apart the densely populated areas and the diverse regional identities in Belgium. In their opinion, only an integration of existing and new infrastructure could harmonize the historically fragmented and urbanized territory. Tirelessly, engineers produced infrastructure plans, strategically interweaving different transport systems, which had to result in an overall transformation of the territory to facilitate modern production and export logics.
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.
The Motorway as a Space of Neoliberalism
The article surveys a giant infrastructural construction project in Poland: the A2 motorway, connecting Poznan´ and Warsaw with the Polish-German border. It was the first private motorway in Poland, and the biggest European infrastructural project, and was realized in a public-private partnership system. The last section of A2 was opened on 1 December 2011, which can be seen as a key moment in Polish socioeconomic transformation. I examine it on two levels: (1) a discourse between government and private investors in which the motorway was the medium of economic and social development and infrastructural “the end” modernization of Poland; (2) practices and opinions of local communities, living along the new motorway. On the first level, the construction of A2 was seen as an impetus for the economic and social development of the regions where the motorway was built. But on the second level, I observe almost universal disappointment and a deep crisis experienced by local economies.
Actuality, Microphone, Radio-film
This essay addresses the effects and experiences that become possible, and become the object of fascination and reflection, when early German radio mobilized-when it moved out of the studio to transmit from places in the "outside world." Mobile electro-acoustic technologies enabled a new sense of exteriority and new experiences of time and space. The paper reconstructs and analyzes three rhetorical figures associated with this mobilized radio. First, the complex concept of actuality, among other things, referred to temporal liveness and the palpable auditory presence of location sound. Second, the popular rhetorical and visual image of the "traveling microphone," emphasized new relations of inside and outside, studio and world, reality and representation. Third, comparisons between radio and film-including the term "radio-film," an early name for live location broadcasts-provided a vocabulary for understanding the properties of a mobile radio, including the intense sense of an outside world made present for the listener at home.
M. William Steele
Japan is one of the great bicycle nations of the world, ranking alongside the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark in terms of per capita bicycle ownership and use. This article reviews the history and characteristics of Japan as a bicycle nation. It examines the emergence of a distinctive bicycle culture that offered personal mobility to ordinary people in prewar Japan and traces the contribution of the bicycle to postwar Japan's social and economic development. It reviews postwar bicycle history in: the period of reconstruction and recovery (1945-1956); the period of high economic growth (1957-1973); the period of rapid motorization (1974-1991); and the period of raised environmental consciousness (1992-present). The conclusion seeks to offer reasons for the persistence of Japan's vibrant and pervasive bicycle culture.
The publication timeline of the issues of volume 10 of Transfers has been informed by its own history and our now shared global history. Issue 10.1 commemorated the journal’s 10th anniversary and sought to take stock of the past, point to future avenues, and react to the immediate present. Issue 10.2/3 is a double issue that moves the journal further into a new era. It both reaffirm our commitment to interdisciplinarity, diversity, and cutting-edge theorization and remains faithful to our engagement to question accepted histories, especially in the case of infrastructures, these seemingly perennial elements of our lived environment. Editing this journal remains a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort. As such, this double issue presents a collection of research articles on aeromobility, human-elephant relations, LGBT refugees in Germany, and mobility justice in Australia, followed by a special section on railways in Europe and Asia. In both parts of this issue, the articles weave together acts of authoring and reading mobility, by challenging our understanding of our field’s accepted terms and concepts, developing their semantic richness, and asking of us to fully reflect on their meaning today.
Kurze Schatten , Documentary, Germany, 2013; Gerd Roscher (director); color; 56 minutes; no distributor In 1859, twenty-three-year-old Albrecht Roscher embarked on a quest to discover the sources of the Nile. He was one of the earliest
Johannes Görbert, Russ Pottle, Jeff Morrison, Pramod K. Nayar, Dirk Göttsche, Lacy Marschalk, Dorit Müller, Angela Fowler, Rebecca Mills, and Kevin Mitchell Mercer
German Literary Anthropology: Across Cultures, Across Genres Stefan Hermes and Sebastian Kaufmann, eds., Der ganze Mensch – die ganze Menschheit: Völkerkundliche Anthropologie, Literatur und Ästhetik um 1800 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014), 318