In 1870, a report by a local commissioner in Zhenjiang, a city by the Yangzi River in Jiangsu Province, noted that “the Chinese are learning to appreciate traveling by foreign steamers. Not a few of the passengers who arrive and depart hence are officials, who have so far overcome their bigotry to acknowledge that steamer traveling is eminently satisfactory.” As foreign powers had used steamers in their economic expansion in China during the First Opium War (1839–42), the Chinese had at first associated this mode of transport with imperialism and Western dominance before they became an integral part of passenger and commercial conveyance.
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.
This article considers recent scholarship on the social dimensions of mass transit in the United States. It focuses on historical struggles to make urban conveyances serve the public and demonstrates that access to mass transit has been continually contested through legal challenges, economic boycotts, and everyday practice.
Jesús Mirás and Alberte Martínez
Some years ago, Javier Vidal took stock of the historiography on transport in Spain, noting its main achievements and shortcomings. Here we continue by analyzing the Spanish historiography of this subject published since then, that is, from 2010 to 2012—a productive if brief period in this subfield. Researchers of the Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles have been leaders in the field, through the publication of monographs, the journal Transportes, Servicios y Telecomunicaciones (TsT), and conferences. We hope that the present economic reform policies do not hinder its long and fruitful career.
A new historiographic trend in Germany has emerged. Since 2009, scholarly publications in the formerly little-researched subfield of tourism history have proliferated on the German book market. This remarkable surge might not be surprising except for one fact: most of these publications cover the history of tourism in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), a communist state that dissolved in 1990, leaving few remnants in the unified Germany of today.
Ivan V. Small
Vietnam has been the focus of a creative and burgeoning body of academic, policy, and industry research broadly focused on mobility. This review is designed to give an inter-disciplinary overview of some of the new mobility related academic work on Vietnam and reflect on the broader political, economic and social contexts and catalysts of the mobility turn. The review considers three sub themes: transportation mobility, migratory mobility, and social mobility. It concludes with some reflections on the potentials and limitations for intersection between these fields, and anticipations of new mobility research areas in the coming years.
The nomads traditionally studied by ethnographers have a sense of place and territory, a sense of time and of return. This nomadism is thus different from the metaphorical nomadism of our current mobility; that is, “overmodern” (surmoderne) mobility. The meaning of “over” in the adjective “overmodern” or “supermodern” has to be read in the sense that it has in Freud’s and Althusser’s expression “overdetermination,” where it indicates the profusion of causes in a particular phenomenon that complicates the analysis of its effects. Overmodern mobility expresses itself in the movements of population (migrations, tourism, professional mobility), in immediate general communication and in the traffic of products, images, and information. It corresponds to the paradox of a world where we can, at least in theory, make everything without moving and while moving all the time.
M. William Steele
This article reviews recent scholarship on Asian mobility, focusing on the influence of the prewar Japanese empire on the mobility (and immobility) of people, goods, and ideas in Asia today. Prewar Japanese technicians, engineers, and politicians built highways, aviation systems, electricity grids, and communication networks seeking to create new levels of transnational mobility and human integration. Nonetheless, unlike Europe, this infrastructure failed to stimulate movements toward Asian integration. Mobility scholars, east and west, should be interested in the divergences between Asia and Europe in dealing with the construction and use of emerging transnational infrastructures since World War II.
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.
Airports seem to be an endless ground for conceiving past and present (aero)-mobilities. Understood not only as air mobilities but also as the dominant mobility of international travel, aeromobilities offer an encompassing understanding of airports as sites of meaningful (im)mobilities of people, objects, ideas, and ideologies. These sites touch on more power relationships, across far larger and thinner scales of time and space, than the ones usually considered in the study of transportation places. As the first review on airport historiography in this journal showed, scholars have socially, politically, and culturally investigated airports in manifold ways, turning them into key transdisciplinary objects for the development of mobilities studies. In recent years, studies on European airports have been numerous. Few of these have engaged in deep historical analysis, although temporalities play a key role in airports. As spaces they are constantly changing, with terminals themselves being significantly more mobile than planes in terms of design and architecture. The existing literature misses links between the past and present times of airports.