The cross-pollination made possible by bringing critical studies of mobility from different disciplines into conversation with one another is a goal of T2M and Mobility in History generally, and this special section on roadways in history and anthropology specifically. Anthropologists and historians of mobility, roads, and automobility have a great deal to share with one another and with our colleagues in other disciplines. As an anthropologist, a representative of a still relatively new discipline in the pages of Mobility in History, I’ve been invited to open this section with a review of how my discipline has approached the subject of roads.
Along a mountainous stretch of Peruvian highway, the anthropologists Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox recount a conversation between highway engineers and their hotel caretaker that illustrates a needed shift in direction for the ethnography of roads and other infrastructures of transportation. In Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise, the two anthropologists convey the hotel caretaker’s concern that inexplicable and uncontrollable forces govern local mountains and sometimes claim the lives of drivers crossing high passes. “Even this house is haunted by ghosts,” she tells the engineers, who are staying with her as they conduct surveys to upgrade the highway. Are they aware of these forces, she wants to know, and do they believe in ghosts? The engineers laugh, and one speaks for the others when he says that no, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does believe in mathematics.
Imparting Ethno-aesthetic Knowledge in John Hawkesworth’s Report on Cook’s First Voyage to the South Pacific (1768–1771)
Regarding the “branch of anthropology of the Enlightenment which deals with the systematic comparison of peoples,” 2 the “knowledge function” of travel narratives of the so-called Second Age of Discovery is obvious—the numerous and widely consumed travel
Crises in urban electric transport infrastructure of Eastern and Southeastern Europe present not only a fruitful subject for historical, ethnographic, and sociological inquiry, but also contribute to two intersecting knowledge fields. First, to the multidisciplinary constellation of studies dedicated to failures of sociotechnical systems that I will refer to as disaster and crisis studies. And second, to social studies of urban transit in the former Socialist Bloc, a subfield within broader mobility and transport studies. In this text I will review the state of both these fields and then proceed to conceptualize the intersections between them, proposing historical anthropology as an integration tool. In the process I will occasionally refer to my fieldwork in Donbas, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2013, and eastern Romania since 2015.
Jelena Tošić and Annika Lems
Th is contribution introduces the collection of texts in this special section of Migration and Society exploring contemporary patterns of im/mobility between Africa and Europe. It proposes an ontological-epistemological framework for investigating present-day movements via three core dimensions: (1) a focus on im/mobility explores the intertwinement of mobility and stasis in the context of biographical and migratory pathways and thus goes beyond a binary approach to migration; (2) an existential and dialogical-ethnographic approach zooms in on individual experiences of im/mobility and shows that the personal-experiential is not apolitical, but represents a realm of everyday struggles and quests for a good life; and (3) a genealogical-historical dimension explores present-day migratory quests through their embeddedness within legacies of (post)colonial power relations and interconnections and thus counteracts the hegemonic image of immigration from Africa as having no history and legitimacy.
. Johannes Fabian, for example, addresses the aspect of temporal experience in anthropological studies by investigating nineteenth-century portrayals of cross-cultural encounter as forerunners of a trend he refers to as the “denial of coevalness.” 8 Fabian
Mari Hvattum, Brita Brenna, Beate Elvebakk and Janike Kampevold Larsen, eds., Routes, Roads and Landscapes Kevin James
Joe T. Darden and Richard W. Thomas, Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide Bruce Pietrykowski
Adria Imada, Aloha America: Hula Circuits through the U.S. Empire Chase Smith
Noel B. Salazar, Envisioning Eden: Mobilizing Imaginaries in Tourism and Beyond Julia Harrison
Leon Fink, Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present John T. Grider
Diana Glenn, Eric Bouvet and Sonia Floriani, eds., Imagining Home: Migrants and the Search for a New Belonging Irene Belperio
Thomas Birtchnell, Indovation: Innovation and a Global Knowledge Economy in India Kevin Hannam
Giuseppina Pellegrino, ed., The Politics of Proximity Jonas De Vos and Frank Witlox
John Parkin, ed., Cycling and Sustainability Manuel Stoffers
Luis Vivanco, Reconsidering the Bicycle: An Anthropological Perspective on a New (Old) Thing Matthew Calarco
Airline Travelers and Colonial Encounters in the 1930s
Chandra D. Bhimull
In the 1920s, Imperial Airways, the first national airline and antecedent of British Airways, launched in Britain. Within a few years, it flew passengers to Britain's overseas territories for the first time. This essay analyzes travel writings from these first flyers. It combines anthropological and historical approaches to expose the advent of airline travel transforming colonial encounters. It argues that the integration of high speed and the verticality of flight dramatically altered how metropolitan travelers related to the landscapes and lives literally beneath them. An anthrohistorical inquiry into the impact of airborne mobility, it also wonders how this new way of moving affected people on the ground, especially those in colonies. Scarcely examined in tandem, regard for both groups illuminates how the airliner's three-dimensional movements remapped racial hierarchies. Consideration of this new geometry of power helps us reimagine where empire and oppression, as lived experiences, are located, fueled, and executed.
What good are mobility scholars? And what does our scholarship—be it rooted in history, geography, sociology, anthropology, or any other discipline—provide the world outside academia? Those are questions I have been pondering for the last year, ever since Gijs Mom and Peter Merriman engaged in a stimulating polemic in the pages of Yearbook Six. Must we move beyond our academic silos, as Mom suggested, and peek (if not step boldly) into interdisciplinary work and even policy? Can the scholar be a planner or policy maker? Can the historian offer insights on the future of mobility? And what of our subjects? Should our gaze be turned to the international? The comparative? Or, as Merriman argued, should we polish well-trod national mobilities in ways that allow new subjects, local particularities, and actors to shine through?
The Use of Trained Elephants for Emergency Logistics, Off-Road Conveyance, and Political Revolt in South and Southeast Asia
This article is about the use of trained Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for transportation, in particular across muddy or flooded terrain, clandestine off-road transportation, and during guerrilla operations or political revolts. In a sense, these are all in fact the same transport task: the terrestrial conveyance of people and supplies when, due to weather or politics or both, roads cannot be used. While much recent work from fields such as anthropology, geography, history, and conservation biology discusses the unique relationship between humans and trained elephants, the unique human mobilities opened up by elephant-based transportation has been for the most part overlooked as a research topic. Looking at both historical and recent (post–World War II) examples of elephant-based transportation throughout South and Southeast Asia, I suggest here that this mode of transportation has been especially associated with epistemologically less visible processes occurring outside of state-recognized, formal institutions.