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Jeffrey Herf

George Mosse wrote European intellectual and cultural history in a way that recast its meaning. Because he did so without a specific theoretical program, the extent of his accomplishment in this regard at times went unnoticed. He was a member of the remarkable generation of European refugee historians who together formed the core of the American study of European culture and ideas in the postwar era. For his contemporaries, such as H. Stuart Hughes, Peter Gay, Leonard Krieger, Carl Schorske, and Fritz Stern, writing European intellectual history meant two things. First, it was a salvage operation, an effort to recall and preserve the traditions of humanism and liberalism destroyed by fascism and Nazism. Second, and related to that task, it entailed writing about other intellectuals—philosophers, social theorists, and novelists and artists of the first rank—who represented the best that had been thought in Europe.

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Subversive Mobilities

The Copenhagen Riots, 1900–1919

Mikkel Thelle

The article approaches mobility through a cultural history of urban conflict. Using a case of “The Copenhagen Trouble,“ a series of riots in the Danish capital around 1900, a space of subversive mobilities is delineated. These turn-of-the-century riots points to a new pattern of mobile gathering, the swarm; to a new aspect of public action, the staging; and to new ways of configuring public space. These different components indicate an urban assemblage of subversion, and a new characterization of the “throwntogetherness“ of the modern public.

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Painting, Self, and Society at the Cusp of Abstraction

Comments on Art and Comparative Cultural History

Debora Silverman

It is very gratifying, at the end of the long journey this book entailed, to have responses generated from two fields and from some of the scholars whose writings have inspired me along the way. What I’d like to do in my comments is not to rehash material in the book—I hope those of you who haven’t yet will get a chance to read it. (It is now available in a paperback edition.) Rather, I’d like to raise some broader issues for our future work relating to the position of navigating between the disciplines of art history and cultural history as we try to write in the links between biography, society, and style in specific national contexts, and the particular benefits of comparative analysis as we do so.

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Dhan Zunino Singh

This article traces a genealogy of sexual harassment in Buenos Aires public transport, analyzing the intersection between gender and mobility through cultural history. It focuses on the first decades of the twentieth century in which the city became a modern metropolis and women became more visible commuters using public transport. It deals with the tensions, interactions, expectations, and representations that emerged from the increasing presence of female passengers within the male imaginary and how women became a sexualized object in order to contextualize sexual harassment and explain how it became a “natural” practice over time. Finally, this article argues that the case study triggers the need to analyze gendered mobilities paying more attention to the relationship between sexuality and transport to understand passengers as sexualized bodies.

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Dhan Zunino Singh

Considering ‘urban mobility as an important everyday life practice that produces meaning and culture,’ the present review discusses underground railway history in cultural terms. Following Colin Divall and George Revill, culture is understood here as representations and practices, and the underground railway ‘as mediation between the imaginable and the material.’ This review does not cover the prolific literature about this topic, but gathers perspectives from within and beyond transport or mobility history to contribute to a historical and comparative assessment of spatial representations and practices related to the production and uses of this subterranean mode of transport. The sources of these perspectives are Benson Bobrick’s Labyrinths of Iron, Rosalind Williams’s Notes on the Underground, Michael Brooks’s Subway City, David Pike’s Subterranean Cities, and Andrew Jenks’s A Metro of the Mount.

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The Chaco Skies

A Socio-cultural History of Power Relations

Alejandro Martín López and Agustina Altman

This article looks into notions of the sky among the Guaycurú aboriginal groups in the Argentine Chaco within the context of the socio-religious changes they have undergone since the eighteenth century. By using ethno-astronomy and anthropology of religion perspectives, and based on our own ethnographic and documentary work, we have analyzed both the continuities and the ruptures in the Guaycurú skies. In doing so, we have found that social relations between humans and non-humans shape the Guaycurú experience of celestial space. These bonds have a strongly political character as they are structured around power asymmetries. The colonial experience, including Christian missions, has imposed modernity on these groups as an overall horizon of possibilities. However, the Guaycurú have sought to redefine modernity, creating their own ‘modernity paths’.

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Elliot Neaman

Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to Traces; Artifacts of German Memory 1870-1990 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)

Rudy Koshar, German Travel Cultures (New York/Oxford: Berg, 2000)

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The Collectivisation of Pleasure

Normative Sexuality in Post-1966 Romania

Erin K. Biebuyck

This article examines several sex manuals from Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania for the ideologically-infused sex norms they contain. These manuals constructed a sexual ideal that located pleasure in the marital couple rather than in the individual, defining ‘normal sexuality’ as heterosexual and privileging its collective significance as an act for reproduction over the experience of pleasure by an individual. This collective model of pleasure was key to the construction of the communist subject as a member of a collective rather than as an autonomous individual. While this collective subject had roots in Romanian pre-communist traditions, communist sex experts rejected conventional gender roles according to which women are subordinate to men. Subsequent comparisons with contemporaneous American sex manuals reveal that the Romanian communist discourse on pleasure differed significantly from that of popular American sex advice of the same period.

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Samuel Merrill

In Berlin’s U-Bahn an announcement cautions passengers: “Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante.” This fastidious rendition of the London Underground’s “mind the gap” warning reveals audio equivalencies between the two transport networks. However, the more numerous curved platforms of the Underground—originally designed for the shorter trains of the past—mean that its gaps are more pronounced than those of the U-Bahn. When it comes to the cultural investigation of each city’s broader public transport histories and geographies, the reverse is true. Unlike in London, public transport in the German capital has escaped the significant scholarly attention of historians in recent years.

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Airports as Urban Narratives

Toward a Cultural History of the Global Infrastructures

Nathalie Roseau

This article focuses on the process of the design of airports and how in particular the urban context has shaped their specific histories. Far from being merely pure technical or functional equipment, they have been mirrors for contemporary expectations, just as they informed the modern urban imaginary. According to this perspective, an urban history of airports can be traced from the first aerodromes dedicated to large urban publics to the development of spectacular airports driven by the massive recent routinization of air transport so intricately bound up with globalization. Based on research on specific cases of the design and building of New York and Paris airports, this article aims to resist the temptations to dehistoricize the airport topic, and to introduce a narrative mode of thinking about these specific and concrete spaces.