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.
Historiographical Needs in the Study of Bicycling Mobility in France
Retracing Mobilities on Land in French Colonial Indochina and Beyond: Cars, Trains, Rickshaws, and Motorbikes
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.
Geography and Mobility: Recent Themes in French Scholarship
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’.
The German Automotive Industry since 1945: An Open Field of Research
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.
Moving the Masses: Toward a History of Public Transport in Postwar Latin America
Andra B. Chastain
Nearly three decades ago, a French-trained urban planner remarked that “getting around any Latin American city is a true quotidian feat” for travelers contending with “the subways of Caracas, the packed lines of the Mexico metro, the Santiago journeys without any foreseeable destination, the crammed La Paz truffis [cars with fixed routes], the dangerous Lima micro[buses], and the ups-and-downs of central Quito.” While this description evokes the colorful spectrum of urban mobility in the region, it also sums up the anxieties of many postwar observers of Latin American cities: urban transportation seemed to be in crisis. With vehicle shortages, traffic congestion, air pollution, and sporadic social protests, public transportation tested Latin American metropolises since at least the postwar era.
The French Quest for the Silent Car Body
Technology, Comfort, and Distinction in the Interwar Period
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.
Shavagne Scott, Walter Goettlich, Sheila Petty, Wang Yanjun, Chimwemwe Phiri, and Larissa Kopytoff
similar ways to his subjects, Scott offers readers innovative interpretations that stand the test of time. In the book's preface, Scott tells the story of French official La Salle's failed attempt to prevent revolutionary slogans and news from reaching
Where Environmental Aesthetics Meets Magical Realism
easternmost of the Cyclades islands, neighboring the Dodecanese island group. The island's rich aquatic life and architectural beauty featured prominently in French director Luc Besson's internationally acclaimed English-language film on freediving, The Big
Cinema's Journey into Homelessness Leos Carax's Holy Motors
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.
Indigènes into Signs
Incorporating Indigenous Pedestrians on Colonial Roads in 1920s and 1930s French Indochina
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.