, leaving two soldiers dead. The incident came to be known as the Battle of Angoteros. 31 A rush of nationalism followed this event, and the distant Amazon frontier became the focus of Quito’s modernizing fever. 32 A society of patriots, the Junta
Mobile Cultures between the Andes and the Amazon around 1900
Jaime Moreno Tejada
The Motorway as a Space of Neoliberalism
The article surveys a giant infrastructural construction project in Poland: the A2 motorway, connecting Poznan´ and Warsaw with the Polish-German border. It was the first private motorway in Poland, and the biggest European infrastructural project, and was realized in a public-private partnership system. The last section of A2 was opened on 1 December 2011, which can be seen as a key moment in Polish socioeconomic transformation. I examine it on two levels: (1) a discourse between government and private investors in which the motorway was the medium of economic and social development and infrastructural “the end” modernization of Poland; (2) practices and opinions of local communities, living along the new motorway. On the first level, the construction of A2 was seen as an impetus for the economic and social development of the regions where the motorway was built. But on the second level, I observe almost universal disappointment and a deep crisis experienced by local economies.
One Family's Sacrifice
Last Train Home (guitu lieche 归途列车) 2009. Produced by Mila Aung-Th win and Daniel Cross (executive producers) with Bob Moore (co-producer) and Zhao Qi (executive producer). Directed by Lixin Fan. Documentary. Cast: Changhua Zhan, Suqin Chen, Qin Zhang, Yang Zhang, Tingsui Tang (as themselves).
Precarious Connections: On the Promise and Menace of Railroad Projects
Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk
This introduction attempts to situate railroads, which have rarely been the object of ethnographic attention, within current debates of anthropology and related disciplines. While mobility is certainly one dimension of human-railroad entanglements, the introduction calls to explore political, social, material, and affective lives of railroads in Europe and Asia as well. Often, connections provided by railroads are precarious at best: enveloped in state and local politics, they appear to some as promise and to others as menace. Planning, construction, decay, and reconstruction constitute the temporal and material life cycle of these infrastructures. Attending to particular ethnographic and historical contexts, the introduction aims to demonstrate how railroads, these potent symbols of modernity, continue to be good to think with.
The version of record is December 2020, though the actual publication date is May/June 2021.
For countries that are not leaders in modernization and technology, discussions of transportation history frequently conclude by acknowledging insufficient research on this topic. Indeed, this was my first impression when committing to this assignment. Nevertheless, once I started to review and gather material, my findings exceeded my initial expectations.
Michael K. Bess
The building of motor roads in Latin America, as elsewhere, was an activity essential to the history of modernization and state formation in the twentieth century. Governments, private companies, and regional boosters launched construction efforts with the goal of reducing travel times, linking cities and towns together, and stimulating economic development. In the process, these initiatives also changed the way citizens thought about the nation-state. New highways helped give shape to national identity, not only by making more of the countryside traversable, but also by putting citizens and foreigners in greater contact. Likewise, motor tourism identified and reified regional cultural symbols, transforming them into representations of that nation, and packaging them for easy consumption by travelers on weekend getaways.
The title of this article comes from the famous Turkish novel Araba Sevdası (The carriage affair) by Recaizade Ekrem, an eminent nineteenth-century Turkish scholar. Jale Parla, professor of literature, describes the novel as a “parody of futile writing and reading activities, as futile as the rounds made by the fancy carriages of Westernized beaus in the fashionable Çamlıca.” She further explains that the car has inspired much fabulation in the Turkish novel, signifying possession, power, narcissism, and a feeling of inferiority inspired by contact with the West. Finally, Parla asserts that the car “might have provided the Turkish psyche with something it desperately needed through all stages of modernization from 1880 to 1990.”
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.
Michael K. Bess
The historical literature on mobility and transport in Mexico reveals the impact of infrastructure development on the country’s economic and political modernization in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From 1876, when Porfirio Díaz first ascended to the presidency, until the eve of the 1910 revolution, Mexico built nearly twenty-five thousand kilometers of railroads. Initially launched by foreign-dominated consortiums, and later centralized under the state-owned Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (Mexican National Railways), the burgeoning rail network linked the country’s major cities and ports together, facilitating regional industrial development and export-oriented economic growth. Following a decade of armed conflict, the postrevolutionary state faced the task of rebuilding devastated transportation infrastructure. Beginning under President Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–28), the national government repaired and built thousands of miles of railroads and motor highways, relying on a combination of domestic taxes and foreign-direct investment to fund the work. This policy improved regional and national mobility and contributed to a thirty-year period of robust economic growth, called the “Mexican Miracle,” from 1940 to 1970.
The Renewal of the Italian Road Network in the 1920s
Looking beyond motorways plans, this essay focuses on the role of the Italian "road" lobby in the 1920s in shaping the national transport policy. Contractors like Puricelli were the driving forces of surface transport modernization, with visionary plans but also facing a lack of sympathy by the automobile industry. Those programs were nevertheless carried out with the strong support of the Touring Club and provincial councils. In this context, it seems that the fascist dictatorship, with its hesitance, slowed—rather than hastened—road modernization. Only in 1928, feeding off the ideas of Puricelli and others, did the Mussolini government develop a proper road renewal program. Finally, framing the Italian experience in the European contexts, it emerges that despite the extreme success of American car culture, England is depicted as a more suitable model.