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.
The Renewal of the Italian Road Network in the 1920s
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.
Social scientists working in Africa have begun to take an interest in roads and road building. This interest seems to stem from both theoretical and real-world developments: on the one hand, the “material turn” and the recent explosion of interest in infrastructure are drawing scholars’ attention to the “material substrate” that underlies social life; on the other, roads-focused development funding, low-cost Western credit, and the growing role of Chinese investment on the continent have resulted in a proliferation of road-building projects ranging from small rural feeder roads to large megaprojects. This is a moment of rapid change, and focusing on the concrete manifestations of that change offers scholars a rich focal point for understanding the more diffuse effects of a continental trend to make infrastructure the basis of development.
Along a mountainous stretch of Peruvian highway, the anthropologists Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox recount a conversation between highway engineers and their hotel caretaker that illustrates a needed shift in direction for the ethnography of roads and other infrastructures of transportation. In Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise, the two anthropologists convey the hotel caretaker’s concern that inexplicable and uncontrollable forces govern local mountains and sometimes claim the lives of drivers crossing high passes. “Even this house is haunted by ghosts,” she tells the engineers, who are staying with her as they conduct surveys to upgrade the highway. Are they aware of these forces, she wants to know, and do they believe in ghosts? The engineers laugh, and one speaks for the others when he says that no, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does believe in mathematics.
The Clash over the Amelisweerd Forest, 1957–1982
Odette van de Riet and Bert Toussaint
The Amelisweerd case, a highly debated highway network expansion project from the late 1970s, has been widely portrayed as a symbolic mismatch between government and entrenched stakeholder opposition. The aim of this article is to learn from the case by unraveling the policy process using a multiactor policy analysis model. The result is that the policy process scores poorly on all the three applied criteria, and this has had a discernible negative effect on the level of stakeholder support for the policy proposals. Since then, major changes have taken place in the planning processes of infrastructural projects in the Netherlands. However, the potential for learning from Amelisweerd is much wider, as since the 1960s public projects are increasingly subject to public scrutiny and comment. Careful analysis from iconic cases like Amelisweerd can help current infrastructural policymakers and planning project managers as they develop fresh policies and projects.
Caritas Luxembourg and Norry Schneider
The first version of the declaration (“Outcome Document”) for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or ”Rio+20”), the “Zero Draft”, was released by the UNCSD Secretariat in January 2012. The 19-page document is based on a compilation of inputs received from United Nations (UN) member States and other stakeholders, and it outlines a vision for building a sustainable world. This piece is part of a Caritas Luxembourg position paper sent early February 2012 to the Ministry for sustainable development and infrastructure of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures, or MDDI), in order to inform Luxembourgish government’s position on sustainable development prior to the Rio+20 conference.
A Burgeoning Field of Research
Since the 1890s early film pioneers used their cinematographic oeuvre for educational and informative purposes. As a result not only did film production companies regard schools as a lucrative emerging market, but progressive teachers also welcomed this new resource for teaching and learning. Soon a professional infrastructure was created and included several teachers’ associations, film catalogues, journals, and conferences dealing with educational films and their use in teaching and the education sector.
Has economic unification succeeded? Assessments differ, depending on the criteria selected, and the benchmark used. In many areas, from productivity to infrastructure and housing, dramatic economic improvements are readily apparent. Yet daunting challenges remain: the speed of productivity convergence has slowed, unemployment remains high and net emigration continues. Looking forward, demographic and fiscal trends pose serious challenges. This paper begins with a brief look back at the experience since 1989 before turning to a discussion of current and future challenges.
Mobility, Transfers, and Cultural Appropriation
In his recent “manifesto” for future “mobility studies,” Stephen Greenblatt demands that studies investigating mobility from a cultural perspective should (a) make sure not to ignore mobility in the “literal sense,” that is, the “physical, infrastructural, and institutional conditions of movement,” (b) pay attention to “hidden” as well as “conspicuous” forms of movement, (c) look at the “contact zones” of cultural transfer, (d) consider the “tension between individual agency and structural constraint” in these processes and, finally, (e) not forget the “sensation” of “locality,” and the “allure” of “local cultures.”1
Michael F. Wagner
Automobilism—the culture of individual mobility based on private transportation—is promoted by leisure, consumption, the construction of infrastructure, and the provision of service by auto clubs. It promises to carry the driver away on a voyage of discovery with narratives of adventurousness and dreams of the good life on the road. It was from the outset an international movement with national repercussions and variations on a theme. Basically, however, the rise of European automobile culture accompanied the rise of consumption for leisure, which in turn evolved into a consumption regime of mediation and consumption junctions based on individual mobility and tourism.