The history of transport in Paris used to focus on the inner city and take a traditional approach, linked to geography, economics, and political science. The new transport policy implemented by the left-wing Mayor Delanoë and the recent development of a debate on the Greater Paris project, however, have made historians change their scope. New works incorporate the history of a wider territory, on the scale of the whole metropolis, and propose new themes along with the mobility turn.
In this article Merriman responds to Gijs Mom's suggestion that mobility historians should develop a common research agenda, formulate big questions, and adopt a transnational and comparative approach. In reply, Merriman suggests that dissensus and multiple approaches have their advantages, and highlights the ongoing importance of the national as a frame of understanding, as well as the importance of spatially sensitive approaches that pose clear challenges to comparative methodologies.
Two quotations, two periods of history. While the lines were written a century apart, their divergent sentiments reflect more than just the passage of time. They also show how, in the space of a century, the very concept of speed has become more complex, mainly because different kinds of speed are available thanks to new technologies in communications and mobility. The juxtaposition of these two quotations show a rupture: it seems that we are slowly shifting from a status where speed was both wish and choice to one where limited movement may be forced upon us by declining fossil fuels and growing pollution.
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.
Persuasive Technologies and the Ethics of Mobility
There is a tension in any ethical evaluation of mobility. On the one side mobility is linked to elements of progress, cosmopolitism, autonomy, and freedom. On the other side increasing mobility causes worries with regard to safety and sustainability. This essay analyzes a suggested technical solution to the worries about safety and sustainability: the increasing usage of persuasive technologies to change individual behavior. Can and should we moralize mobility technologies by way of persuasion?
Esther Anaya and Santiago Gorostiza
Compared with work in other European countries, the history of bicycle mobility in Spain is still in its infancy. In pioneering work, some historians have dealt with the nineteenth-century origins of cycling in Spain, particularly its athletic aspects. Other historians have reviewed the main cycling competitions in the country: the Volta a Catalunya, organized in 1911, and the Vuelta a España, begun in 1935. Utilitarian cycling, however, has received less attention. A few authors have highlighted the bicycle’s importance in Spain over most of the century, but none have examined the evolution of utilitarian cycling in Spain during the twentieth century. Although archival sources are ample, their diversity and wide dispersion in various government archives, especially at the municipal level, are research obstacles.
In some respects, the history of aviation in Canada has been capably told. Historians have extolled air travel and the accelerated mobility it has offered Canadians, helping them overcome natural geographic barriers and knitting together the country’s disparate regions. But what has not been satisfactorily acknowledged is the global historical story of Canada and commercial air travel during the dawn and maturation of jet travel beginning in the late 1950s. The jet age made air travel a quintessentially global mode of mass transportation, expanding and intensifying connections between distant locales like never before. Canada was not immune to these developments; transoceanic air passenger traffic rose sharply from the 1960s, particularly to and from its major cities. The jet age thus constitutes a pivotal phase in the history of Canadian commercial air travel, having left a distinctive footprint on late twentieth-century Canada.
Rickshaws in Asia
M. William Steele
The rickshaw initiated an explosion in personal mobility in Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Invented in Japan in 1869, by 1872 there were forty thousand and by 1875 over one hundred thousand of the new two-wheel vehicles on the streets of Tokyo. The number reached a peak in 1896 with 210,000 countrywide. The rickshaw (in Japanese, jinrikisha) quickly spread to Asia, to Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1874, to Singapore and Calcutta in 1880. By 1900, the rickshaw had spread throughout the continent, bringing with it new mobility to an emerging urban middle class. Moreover, for many people in Asia, the rickshaw alongside the locomotive, came to symbolize modernity. This article will explore routes of diffusion, focusing on the role played by Akiha Daisuke and his adopted son, Akiha Daisuke II, Japan's largest exporters of rickshaws, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Overtaking Americans and Germans as the world’s most exuberant tourism spenders, middle-class Chinese tourists have become the most coveted demographic in the global tourism market. At the same time, robust “Golden Week” tourism data, which tracks domestic tourism during the two-week national holidays in mainland China, has indicated a surge in travel within China. Viewed as a revealing lens through which one could observe Chinese modernity, travel and tourism-related activities have attracted considerable attention from scholars interested in China.1 However, marked as a “contemporary” phenomenon, tourism and travel in China seem to have remained largely outside historians’ purview. In response to calls from mobility scholars for a historical understanding of the movement of peoples, goods, and ideas since the late twentieth century, China historians have begun to examine the practice of travel and tourism, especially from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. At the same time, infl uenced by colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory, literary scholars have renewed their interests in Chinese travel accounts, both textual and visual, making connections between travelers’ representations and the imaginations of empire and nation-state over the past few centuries.
This article probes the complex relationship between mobility and maternity in the works of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century writers, including Mona Caird, Grant Allen, Elizabeth Von Arnim, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, among others. The maternal role came under intense scrutiny from the fin de siècle and the freedom of the mother was a source of contention at a time when women were embracing new opportunities for adventurous travel more broadly. Where did parental expectation or responsibility enter into the women and travel picture? This article explores various attempts to conceive of a free motherhood during the period and to conceive of the womb as something dynamic and empowering rather than burdensome. Finally, honing in on bag-womb analogies, it asks what it meant for a woman to "carry," both materially and metaphorically, in the context of turn-of-the-century debates surrounding female mobility and motherhood.