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Combustion, Hydraulic, and Other Forms of Masculinity

An Essay Exploring Dominant Values and Representations of the Driver in Driverless Technology

Sarah Redshaw

This article presents two representations of masculinity based on media images found in television and online promotion related to motor vehicles. The dominant image in much advertising is the bursting, thrusting power of what I refer to as “combustion” masculinity, identified as active engagement and connected with significant road trauma. The less visible, fluid power found in professional driving that I refer to as “hydraulic” masculinity draws on precision and awareness of the surroundings rather than aggressive force. Social analysis of electric and driverless vehicle promotion and media discussion indicate that moving to electric and fully automated driving requires overcoming the essential contradiction of combustion power, as it is associated with cars and freedom. Alternative modes and images of being mobile must be highlighted in order to challenge the combustion image. Fundamentally, activity should be ascribed to all mobile persons, and policy and mobility systems should be designed to maximize mobility for all.

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Reshaping Empire

Airline Travelers and Colonial Encounters in the 1930s

Chandra D. Bhimull

In the 1920s, Imperial Airways, the first national airline and antecedent of British Airways, launched in Britain. Within a few years, it flew passengers to Britain's overseas territories for the first time. This essay analyzes travel writings from these first flyers. It combines anthropological and historical approaches to expose the advent of airline travel transforming colonial encounters. It argues that the integration of high speed and the verticality of flight dramatically altered how metropolitan travelers related to the landscapes and lives literally beneath them. An anthrohistorical inquiry into the impact of airborne mobility, it also wonders how this new way of moving affected people on the ground, especially those in colonies. Scarcely examined in tandem, regard for both groups illuminates how the airliner's three-dimensional movements remapped racial hierarchies. Consideration of this new geometry of power helps us reimagine where empire and oppression, as lived experiences, are located, fueled, and executed.

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“Amazing Rapidity”

Time, Public Credit, and David Hume’s Political Discourses


This article explores David Hume’s views on public credit, the state, and geopolitics as outlined in his Political Discourses. By drawing attention to Hume’s analysis of the speed of political economic dynamics, the article suggests the philosopher feared that public credit, a crucial source of eighteenth-century European economic growth, fundamentally revolutionized the pace of social relations, the mechanics of the state, and European geopolitics at large. Hume’s study of public credit highlighted its role in reshaping eighteenth-century visions of time, and the philosopher’s disappointment with his own solution, in turn, reinforces the need to consider the multifaceted effects of public credit in the modern world.

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“Everything Happens Fast”

Tracking Automotive Speed, Economic Acceleration, and the Roots of European Road Movies in Il sorpasso

Michael Gott

Il sorpasso, Italy, 1962; Mario Cecchi Gori (producer); Dino Risi (director), Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, and Ruggero Maccari (screenplay); starring Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant. 2014 DVD release by the Criterion Collection includes new English subtitle translation, interviews, essays, excerpts of a documentary, and an introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne.

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The Devil’s Money

A Multi-level Approach to Acceleration and Turbulence in Oil-Producing Southern Chad

Andrea Behrends and Remadji Hoinathy

This article analyzes the effects of a World Bank–promoted oil revenue distribution model in Chad. The authors engage the classic anthropological concerns of kinship and land tenure to examine how oil money has affected the southern Chadian oil zone. In determining whether oil money differs from money originating in other industries, two examples are used: the effects of salaries from pipeline construction on marriage payments and the effects of compensation payments on land ownership and kinship. With regard to these effects, the authors argue that oil generates a uniquely disruptive form of local inflation. They conclude that despite the World Bank’s measures to ensure that its oil model is transparent and socially just, these disruptions inhere in the model itself.

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Student engagement in the management of accelerated change

Anthropological reflections on ‘Project 2012’ and The Offer

Anselma Gallinat

The prospect of the increase in tuition fees in England from 2012 pulled learning and teaching into the limelight as universities sought to safeguard student recruitment and league table positions in an envisioned new era of increased market competition. As each institution sought to market itself to potential students with a specific learning and teaching ‘offer’, local subject areas faced increasing demands for quality monitoring as well as a host of initiatives and changes to their existing provision. The acceleration of change brought to the fore structures and dynamics that are usually difficult to detect in the routines of everyday life. This article focuses on one U.K. university and explores how the government for accelerated change aimed to reshape learning and teaching practices in preparation for the new times, but in fact served to undermine the visions that had fuelled this change.