Let us begin with the jokey new term ‘ferrosexuals’, meaning people who experience wanton fetishistic desire for trains—also more romantically labelled ‘buffer kissers’. When I was a lass too young to have heard of the Mile-high Club, ferrosexuals were called ‘train-spotters’ and their ardour was seen as innocuous, if pitiably nerdy. Does the new term mean that machines for travel are now seen as sexy, because we live in increasingly sexualised societies? Or does it mean that an underlying sexual charge in people’s interest in trains is finally being made explicit and taken seriously? We do not know. And the reason we do not know is that scholarly work—particularly historicised work—has yet to be done on sexualities’ many interfaces with transport and mobility.
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.
In his reply to my diatribe about the crisis of transport and mobility history, my friend Peter Merriman casually drops the term “modernist” three times (one time in combination with “desires”), as if to suggest that mine is a backward struggle. He seems to ask: haven’t we now moved into the postmodern condition, beyond the illusions of grand narratives and all-permeating questions, into a meadow of a thousand blooming flowers? Apart from the fact that Mao was more modest than Merriman (Mao used ba¯i, a hundred, not qia¯n, a thousand, my Chinese teacher here in Shanghai explains to me, and he used “blossoming” rather than “blooming,” though the difference between the two escapes me with my limited mastery of English), Peter might be right: I confess I am an antimodernist modernist. Like Deng Xiaoping, for whom this term was coined by the Chinese historian Wang Hui and with whom (for several reasons) I don’t like to be compared, I like to stir things up to keep us awake. I need to ask questions—often with a vengeance. Perhaps the main difference between Peter and I is that I dare to use the word “us.” I feel a member of an association, while Peter might be considered a monad in a network. While I bask in the illusions of a community of scholars, Peter advocate a mild postmodernism, perhaps feeling more at home in a fragmented environment, of which even the mobile practices of the Australian Pitjantjatara form a part. Do we have a case of Gesellschaft versus Gemeinschaft here?
Mette Louise Berg, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Johanna Waters
and policies have increasingly aimed to “control,” “manage,” “contain,” and “prevent” migration, the need for careful attention to migrants’ everyday practices, desires, aspirations, and fears is particularly urgent, as is the importance of situating
Restoring Viable Relations in Emigrant Gambia
to the ways in which would-be migrants cultivate a desire to leave, irrespective of whether they actually do so. Indeed, the interest in aspirations partly stems from the fact that the longing for migration is today increasingly dissociated from
Engaging with the Politics of Care and Refugees’ Dwelling Practices in the Italian Urban Context
Camillo Boano and Giovanna Astolfo
understanding of the complex entanglements of humanitarian dilemmas, refugees’ struggle for recognition and their desire for opacity. While it is impossible to completely avoid the use of terms such as integration and hospitality, given that they are deeply
Paul Moody and Gabriel Aarón Macías Zapata
*Second review is in Spanish
T. Winther. (2008). The impact of electricity: Development, desires and dilemmas. New York: Berghahn Books
E. Velásquez, E. Léonard, O. Hoff mann, & M.F. Prêvot-Schapira (Coords.). (2009). El istmo mexicano: una región inasequible. Estado, poderes locales y dinámicas espaciales (siglos XVI-XIX). México: Publicaciones de la Casa Chata-CIESAS - IRD.
Sue Frohlick, Kristin Lozanski, Amy Speier, and Mimi Sheller
What mobilizes people to take up reproductive options, directions, and trajectories in ways that generate the possibilities and practices of mobilities? People’s desires for procreation or to resolve fertility challenges or partake in sperm donation, egg freezing, or surrogacy; the need for abortion services; and forced evacuation for childbirth care all involve movement. Reproductive aspirations, norms, and regulations move people’s bodies, as well as related technologies and bioproducts. At the same time, these corporeal, material, in/tangible mobilities of bodies, things, and ideas are also generative of reproductive imaginaries and practices. Reproduction is mobile and movement affects reproduction. Building from an interdisciplinary workshop on reproductive mobilities in Kelowna, Canada, this article aims to push the mobilities framework toward the edges of feminist, affect, queer, decolonizing, materialist, and nonrepresentational theories in thinking through both reproduction and movement.
Gijs Mom, Cotten Seiler, and Georgine Clarsen
This issue is the last of volume 2. With this, we have reached a milestone in our fledgling history and a threshold to the last volume in our series of three in which we have strived, and still strive, to get all the important elements of a good journal in place. According to our original plans our priorities were to establish top-quality submissions, a splendid pool of knowledgeable and rigorous but generous transdisciplinary referees, efficient refereeing procedures, satisfactory rejection rates, timely manuscript production, and a subscriber base that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Although quantitatively not yet up to standard, our readership is variegated and adventurous enough to appreciate our desire to “rethink mobility” and dedicate printed space to “mobility writ large.” Before we begin to produce volume 3 (2012) this September, our editorial team will retreat, evaluate, and look each other in the eyes to determine what we can do better.
Educating the First Railroaders in Central Sakha (Yakutiya)
Sigrid Irene Wentzel
In July 2019, the village of Nizhniy Bestyakh in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutiya), the Russian Far East, was finally able to celebrate the opening of an eagerly awaited railroad passenger connection. Through analysis of rich ethnographic data, this article explores the “state of uncertainty” caused by repeated delays in construction of the railroad prior to this and focuses on the effect of these delays on students of a local transportation college. This college prepares young people for railroad jobs and careers, promising a steady income and a place in the Republic’s wider modernization project. The research also reveals how the state of uncertainty led to unforeseen consequences, such as the seeding of doubt among students about their desire to be a part of the Republic’s industrialization drive.