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Commentary

Breathing Fresh Air into Mobility Studies from Down Under

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

As Georgine Clarsen summarizes this special section on Australian and settler colonial Pacific, these four articles add to the “rereading [of] settler-colonial formations through practices and representations of movement [and] circulation.” But that is only half the truth. They also constitute counterrepresentations. They deal not only with the stasis that follows European settling as a process but also with counter- and antimobilities that Indigenous peoples mount: against inward movement, against disruptive settling and forceful displacement of the Indigenous from their lands, and against emplacement and settlement upon it. The scholars in this special section present an example for studies of mobility in the colonial setting in two ways. First, they decenter technology and center the human factor, for which they get full marks. Second they allow mobilities to emanate from the subjects and context of study, rather than letting conceptions of Western-centric, technocentric history of transport and mobility studies guide them.

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John Lennon, Boxcar Politics: The Hobo in U.S. Culture and Literature, 1869–1956 Jennifer Hagen Forsberg

Grégoire Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone Adam Rothstein

Bridget T. Chalk, Modernism and Mobility: The Passport and Cosmopolitan Experience Alicia Rix

Ana Cardoso de Matos and Magda Pinheiro, eds., História Património e Infraestruturas do Caminho de Ferro: Visões do Passado e Perspetivas do Futuro Hugo Silveira Pereira

Nigel Thrift, Adam Tickell, Steve Woolgar, and William F. Rupp, eds., Globalization in Practice Regine Buschauer

Marlis Schweitzer, Transatlantic Broadway: The Infrastructural Politics of Global Performance Sunny Stalter-Pace

Michel Serres, Thumbelina: The Culture and Technology of Millennials Steven D. Spalding

NOVEL REVIEW Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go Lindsey Zanchettin

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Stephen Kalberg

The disagreement between Germany and the United States over the

war in Iraq was massive. During the winter of 2002, many observers

spoke of a long-term rift between these longstanding allies and a

total loss of credibility on both sides. No one can doubt, regardless

of recent healing overtures,1 that the German-American partnership

has been altered and significantly weakened. It has suffered a blow

far more damaging than those that accompanied past conflicts over,

for example, Ostpolitik, the neutron bomb, the Soviet gas pipeline,

the flow of high technology products to the Soviet Union, the imposition

of trade sanctions in 1980 against the military government in

Poland, the stationing in the late 1970s of middle-range missiles on

German soil, and the modernization of short-range missiles in 1989.

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Gatherings of Mobility and Immobility

Itinerant “Criminal Tribes” and Their Containment by the Salvation Army in Colonial South India

Saurabh Arora

In retelling the history of “criminal tribe” settlements managed by the Salvation Army in Madras Presidency (colonial India) from 1911, I argue that neither the mobility–immobility relationship nor the compositional heterogeneity of (im)mobility practices can be adequately captured by relational dialecticism espoused by leading mobilities scholars. Rather than emerging as an opposition through dialectics, the relationship between (relative) mobility and containment may be characterized by overlapping hybridity and difference. This differential hybridity becomes apparent in two ways if mobility and containment are viewed as immanent gatherings of humans and nonhumans. First, the same entities may participate in gatherings of mobility and of containment, while producing different effects in each gathering. Here, nonhumans enter a gathering, and constitute (im)mobility practices, as actors that make history irreducibly differently from other actors that they may be entangled with. Second, modern technologies and amodern “institutions” may be indiscriminately drawn together in all gatherings.

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Nicholas Balaisis

This article examines the Cuban mobile cinema campaign in the 1960s as a case study for thinking about the relationship between cinema and mobility. I examine the rhetoric around mobile cinema in Cuban journals such as Cine Cubano, and in the documentary film Por primera vez (For the first time, 1967). I argue that cinema is linked with mobility in two primary ways: as a virtual mobility stimulated by onscreen images, and as a more literal mobility expressed by the transportation of film into remote rural sites of exhibition. These two kinds of mobility reflect the hopes and ambitions of filmmakers and critics energized by the resurgent nationalism of the Cuban revolution, and the excitement of cinema as a “new” technology in rural Cuba.

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Rolf-Ulrich Kunze

God created the Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands, albeit with only a limited role for the railway. Any railway museum in this country invented by and dependent on hydraulic engineering must creatively solve the problem of portraying a technology of mobility which was not central to the Waterstaat (hydro-engineering) identity and the nation’s sociotechnological construction, but one which initially was secondary and subsidiary and, above all, delayed. On the face of it, the story to be told here appears to be that of how, in a northwestern part of Europe where thorough industrialization was late to come, railway-based mobility established itself against the omnipresence of shipping and evolved from seaport-catering surface logistics into an integral element of everyday transportation in twentieth-century Netherlands. The Utrecht Spoorwegmuseum (railway museum) impressively shows that this is not even half the truth, behind which might be, at best, the grumbling resentment of an 1890 boatman.

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Capital Flows Through Language

Market English, Biopower, and the World Bank

J. Paul Narkunas

In 1997, the World Bank Group1 published in English one of its many country studies, entitled Vietnam: Education Financing. Its goal was to measure ‘what changes in educational policies will ensure that students who pass through the system today will acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for Vietnam to complete the transition successfully from a planned to a market economy’(World Bank 1997: xiii). Skills, knowledge, and attitude designate the successfully ‘educated’ Vietnamese national subjects for the bank. The educational ‘system’ performs, therefore, a disciplinary function by using the technologies of the nation state to cultivate productive humans—measured by technical expertise and computer and business skills—for transnational companies who do business in the region.

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Brett Bowles

The politics of French and German cinema between the onset of the Great Depression and the end of World War II is far from a new topic of study. However, scholars have typically focused on one country or the other, rather than comparing the two, and prioritized high-profile directors (for example, Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Leni Riefenstahl, and Veit Harlan) whose work benefited from direct party sponsorship and served a clearly propagandistic function. Reflecting the evolution of cultural history and film studies over the past decade, this collection of essays seeks to enrich the traditional approach in three ways. The first is by expanding the definition of politics beyond official party or state discourse to include power-related issues such as representation of gender and gender roles; access to material resources including funding and technology; relationships between film creators and industry or government officials; and competition between commercial and ideological priorities in film production, censorship, and distribution.

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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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Of Traiteurs and Tsars

Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance

Willa Z. Silverman

Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.