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Indigènes into Signs

Incorporating Indigenous Pedestrians on Colonial Roads in 1920s and 1930s French Indochina

Stéphanie Ponsavady

In Colonial Indochina, the introduction of motorized transportation led French authorities to focus their attention on the issue of pedestrian walking. The political and economic imperatives of the colonial state shaped the modern phenomenon of traffic, which isolated the indigenous body as a sign of otherness. The unruly indigenous pedestrian expressed a discursive and experiential crisis that questioned colonialism itself. This article invites us to examine the political potential of walking by considering Henri Lefebvre's notion of dressage and its limitations in a colonial setting through various examples, from French accounts of indigenous walking in daily activities to political disruptions of traffic by pedestrian demonstrators and the incorporation of indigenous bodies in road safety policies. Repeatedly, colonial subjects eluded, criticized, or undermined the rules of the road and the colony by the simple act of walking.

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The “Eurasian Question”

Solved by Migration?

Liesbeth Rosen Jacobson

This article examines the arrangements that authorities put in place for populations of mixed ancestry from two former colonies in Asia—the Dutch East Indies and British India—and compares them with those of French Indochina during decolonization. These people of mixed ancestry, or “Eurasians,” as they were commonly called at the time, were a heterogeneous group. Some could pass themselves off as Europeans, while others were seen as indigenous people. The arrangements were negotiated during round table conferences, at which decolonization in all three colonies was prepared. Which agreements were made, what consequences did they have, and how and why did these differ across the three colonial contexts? To answer these questions, I use material from governmental archives from all three former colonial contexts. The article shows that information on the paternal ancestry of Eurasians was decisive in the allocation of European citizenship and admission to the colonizing country.

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Francis Papon

In historical research on cycling in France, most attention has been given to the development of bicycles themselves and the industry that built them, mainly in the nineteenth century, or on cycling as a sport. Some historians have studied the bicycle as a social object. But the works dealing with cycling as a means of transport are scarce. The special double session on “Cycling History and Cycling Policies” at the 2012 annual conference of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility in Madrid was an opportunity to exchange findings from various countries.

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Stéphanie Ponsavady

In his famous 1925 travelogue, Roland Dorgelès writes about his first encounter with the Mandarin Road in Indochina:

When you have dreamed for years of the Mandarin Road, the very name of which evokes all the splendors of the Orient, it is not surprising that you experience a flash of annoyance if you are suddenly held up at a corner, between a street-car and an autobus, by some numbskull who triumphantly announces, with the idea that he is delighting you:

“Well, there it is, your Mandarin Road!”

And then he shows you a guidepost with a blue sign, executed in the purest style of the Department of Bridges and Highways, whereon you read simply, “Colonial Road No. 1.”

Disappointment resides in the resemblance with metropolitan roads, signified by a generic blue sign. Dorgelès laments the lack of exotic experience, even though his presence is only permitted by colonial modernization and administrative uniformity. This tension between the desire for alterity and the rationalization ofspace is characteristic of the French experience in colonial Indochina.

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Aurélien Delpirou and Hadrien Dubucs

What has geography contributed to the new paradigm of mobilities research? This question may appear out of place insofar as mobility has always been a subfield of human geography. In history or sociology (for example), mobilities research was an innovation—but as Tim Creswell and Peter Merriman noted with wit, geographers have returned to mobility as if they were ‘revisiting an old friend’.

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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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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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Whose Business Is Road Safety?

From a Fragmented to an Integrated Approach in France and Europe (1972–1998)

Alice Milor

Most research into road safety in Europe has focused chiefly on public action, without closely examining the role of car manufacturers or their coordination with public initiatives. This article explores how manufacturers transitioned from a fragmented conception of road safety in the 1970s—with vehicles being the responsibility of manufacturers, and prevention and roads that of institutions—to an increasingly integrated approach in the twenty-first century. The study uses industry archives to present manufacturer strategies from 1972 onward, which at first exclusively focused on vehicle safety standards. After 1986, the European Year of Road Safety, manufacturers’ official discourse increasingly stressed user education, as opposed to technical improvements to the product. Th is article will use the French case, as well as a more European approach to the automobile lobby in Brussels, to chart the gradual emergence of an integrated approach to safety combining the vehicle, infrastructure, and user behavior.

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Dhiraj Murthy, Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age Casey Brienza

Ole B. Jensen, Staging Mobilities Fiona Ferbrache

Aharon Kellerman, Daily Spatial Mobility: Physical and Virtual Simona Isabella

Peter Merriman, Mobility, Space and Culture Thomas Birtchnell

Guillermo Giucci, The Cultural Life of the Automobile: Roads to Modernity Georgine Clarsen

Frank Steinbeck, Das Motorrad. Ein deutscher Sonderweg in die automobile Gesellschaft Christopher Neumaier

Maarten Smaal, Politieke strijd om de prijs van de automobiliteit. De geschiedenis van een langdurend discours: 1895–2010 Hans Jeekel

Annette Vowinckel, Flugzeugentführungen. Eine Kulturgeschichte Christian Kehrt

Philip D. Morgan, Maritime Slavery Paul Barrett

Neil Archer, The French Road Movie: Space, Mobility, Identity Michael Gott

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Florian Triebel

The motorcar changed the modern world. While German inventors inaugurated the automotive era in the late 1880s, industrial production was scaled up first in France, followed shortly by the United Kingdom and the United States. Before World War II, the German automotive industry remained small, despite its central role in pioneering the technology. While around 3.8 million cars left U.S. plants in 1928, German manufacturers produced only 108,143 automobiles. The bulk of these vehicles were sold domestically, and as another indication of low German production, American companies built nearly a quarter of the German total in assembly plants they set up across Germany.