The final months of 2014 have seen many critical events in respect to mobility: Apple introduced its Apple Watch, a cyborg technology that adds a novel, substantially corporeal layer to our “always on” connectedness—what Sherry Turkle has termed the “tethered self.”1 Moreover, it is said to revolutionize mobile paying systems, and it might finally implement mobile body monitoring techniques into daily life.2 Ebola is terrorizing Africa and frightening the world; its outbreak and spread is based on human mobility, and researchers are calling for better control and quantifi cation of human mobility in the affected regions to contain the disease.3 Even its initial spread from animals to humans may have had its origin in human transgressions beyond traditional habitats, by intruding into insular bush regions and using the local fruit bats as food. Due to global mobility patterns, the viral passenger switched transport modes, from animal to airplane. On the other hand, private space fl ight suff ered two serious setbacks in just one week when the Antares rocket of Orbital Sciences, with supplies for the International Space Station and satellites on board, exploded, and shortly after, SpaceShipTwo crashed over the Mojave Desert. Th ese catastrophic failures ignited wide media discussion on the challenges, dangers, and signifi cance of space mobility, its ongoing commercialization and privatization, and, in particular, plans for future manned space travel for “tourists.”4
Heike Weber and Gijs Mom
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.
Despite the ubiquity of recreational vehicles traveling America’s highways, only a few scholars have chosen to study them closely. This certainly cannot be because recreational vehicles (RVs) are not significant enough in their scope or scale to warrant attention. In fact, they are very prevalent, as demonstrated by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s estimate that 8.9 million American households own one. It certainly cannot be that their impact is not felt in many communities across the country in the form of branded RV parks, mega dealerships, and tourist destinations purposefully outfitted with all the hookups a land yacht captain requires. It is, therefore, hard to understand how such a highly visible transportation and recreation technology has remained largely invisible for many scholars, even among those working on related topics. The RV’s place in American society has only been studied in a piecemeal fashion, with contributions frequently authored by those outside the discipline of history. This article will review RV-related scholarship and suggest how the lacunae in our understanding of the RV phenomenon would best be filled.
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
Emma Terama, Juha Peltomaa, Catarina Rolim, and Patrícia Baptista
consideration the complex dynamics between local and spatial particularities, technologies, different levels of policy making, and consumer practices. Car Sharing as a Sustainable Solution In short, car sharing is a service scheme providing short-term access to