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Motorcycling in 1980s Athens

Popularization, Representational Politics, and Social Identities

Panagiotis Zestanakis

Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s the number of motorcycles circulating in Athens almost quadrupled. Th is article examines the spread of motorcycling during the 1980s as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon. By examining representations of motorcycling as a deviant lifestyle, the article focuses on the strategies used to stigmatize bikers. Moreover, it describes the popularization of motorcycling and explores how public anxiety about it led to the emergence of new associations such as the motorcycle clubs. Finally, it argues that motorcycling represented a male lifestyle not completely inaccessible to women, a development that testifies to greater flexibility regarding contemporary gender norms and preferences.

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Susan Parman

Travel as a Western cultural practice is nowhere more clearly revealed than in the titles of travel books. Promising both danger and safety (the reader sets off into the unknown accompanied by a knowledgeable authority), travel book titles walk a delicate line between authenticity and caricature. How far away must we go to have crossed into the danger zone? (What exactly does it mean to say that we are going ‘nowhere’, as in Greater Nowheres, Miles from Nowhere, Forty Miles from Nowhere, and A Thousand Miles from Nowhere? If we go nowhere, doesn’t this mean that we’ve stayed home, as in ‘Where did you go?’/’Nowhere’, meaning ‘To the fridge, the bathroom, and Wal Mart’)? How do we get there? (What is the most authentic method of travelling to Nowhere – by camel, truck, motorcycle, ultralight, horse, yak, on foot?)

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Craig Horner

Automobility in the United Kingdom in the period before the First World War moved from irrelevance and ridicule to a normalized leisure activity. With particular reference to the magazines Punch and Motor, this article argues that this process was hastened by middle- and lower-middle-class consumers' receptivity to the automobile and motorcycle, particularly in the period after 1905 when a tolerable mechanical reliability had been achieved. By buying second-hand, and taking short trips and camping weekends, the self-driving, car-owning “modest motorist“ undermined the formal, club-based network of elite motorists and created their own distinct cultural model.

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Adrogynous Punk as Postfeminist Signifying Strategy of Transgression within Subcultures

Punk Aesthetic as Gender De(con)struction in the Trilogy Film Series "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sheila Malone

This article investigates contemporary representations of androgyny and the strategic possibilities of punk-androgyny within a postfeminist imaginary. In looking at the characters Lisbeth in the Swedish film trilogy The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and Kino in the Japanese anime series Kino's Journey, I am interested in connecting the metonymy of punk dress to representations of transgressions of gender norms. My investigation looks at the concept that gender is “unread” through androgyny which manifests as visual signifiers that make up the punk metonymy. The subjects (characters Lisbeth and Kino) erase the signifier of gender, through punk-androgyny, in order to reclaim power and identity within a (masculinized) subculture and mainstream society. Androgyny is not the desire to be the opposite sex as in a transgender subjectivity. Instead, androgyny is a strategy of aesthetics that transgresses the normative structure of language and signifiers that refer girls and women as less than or as Other through the normative codes of feminizing. In addition to arguing that punk metonymy erases explicit or readable/normative gender signs, I analyze how the motorcycle is situated as an extension of the body. The use of motorcycling propels the literal and figurative androgynous bodies through space in overt transgressive actions against the establishment; it provides agency, motility and ultimately new subject positions for the female protagonists. Through a critical analysis drawing from cultural and post-feminist theory and through the examination of specific scenes, this article aims to investigate punk aesthetic as a post-feminist strategy.

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Life at a Tangent to Law

Regulations, ‘Mistakes’ and Personhood amongst Kigali’s Motari

Will Rollason

This article concerns the relationship between motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali and the legal frameworks that govern their business. While motorcyclists commonly subvert legal processes, or avoid complying with regulations, this should not be understood in terms of their ‘resistance’ to legal orders. To do so would imply that laws are imposed on their social lives from without; however, I show how illegalities help to structure social life by creating ‘mistakes’ that are the basis of social relations. I argue that motorcyclists do not confront legal orders in the idiom of resistance, but neither are they determined or shaped directly by legality. Rather, partially formed by breaches of rules, law is integral to their lives, shaping them indirectly or tangentially, according to the relationships and connections ‘mistakes’ with respect to law enable. Law regulates life not by encoding its rules, but by allowing certain kinds of relationships to form.

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The Mistakes That Make People

Reconceptualizing Power and Resistance in Rwanda

Will Rollason

This article constitutes a critique of James C. Scott’s theory of everyday resistance and the use of these concepts in anthropology more generally. Its claim is that theories of power and resistance need to be analyzed in terms of local ideas about the nature of people in order to account for what happens in social life. This contention is based on ideas of personhood among motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Central to these ideas are the ‘faults’ or ‘mistakes’ that people ‘have’, which form the basis of social relations founded on ‘patience’ or ‘forbearance’. Because of these relations, people typically do not take the form of bounded individuals who can act as resistant subjects in Scott’s terms. Thus, we require a reconceptualization of notions of power and resistance based on Rwandan understandings of the person.

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Taking the Road for Play

Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam

Ashley Carruthers

After declining in status and mode share sharply with the popularization of the motorcycle, cycling in Vietnam is on the rise. Urban elites who pursue sport and leisure cycling are the most visible of Vietnam’s new cyclists, and they bring their sense of social mastery out onto the road with them by appropriating the nation’s new, automobile-focused infrastructures as places for play and display. While motivated by self-interest, their informal activism around securing bicycle access to new bridges and highways potentially benefits all and contributes to making livable cities. These socially elite cyclists transcend the status associated with their means of mobility as they enact their mastery over automobile infrastructures meant to usher in a new Vietnamese automobility.

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Manuel Stoffers, Blake Morris, Alan Meyer, Younes Saramifar, Andrew Cobbing, Martin Emanuel, Rudi Volti, Caitlin Starr Cohn, Caitríona Leahy and Sunny Stalter-Pace

Bruce D. Epperson, Bicycles in American Highway Planning: The Critical Years of Policy-Making 1969–1991 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2014), 248 pp., $45

Carlton Reid, Roads Were Not Built for Cars: How Cyclists Were the First to Push for Good Roads & Became the Pioneers of Motoring (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2015), 360 pp., $30

Karen O’Rourke, Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers (London: MIT Press, 2016), 328 pp., £22.95

Jason Weems, Barnstorming the Prairies: How Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), 368 pp., 116 b&w photos, 16 color plates, $122.50 (hardback), $35 (paperback)

Christopher Schaberg and Mark Yakich, eds., Airplane Reading (Alresford, UK: Zero Books, 2016), 213 pp., $22.95 (paperback)

Catherine L. Phipps, Empires on the Waterfront: Japan’s Ports and Power, 1858–1899 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 308 pp., 6 maps, 3 tables, $39.95

James Longhurst, Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015), 294 pp., $34.95

David N. Lucsko, Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust: Salvaging the Automotive Past (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), 283 + xii pp., 10 illustrations, $44.95

Steven E. Alford and Suzanne Ferris, An Alternative History of Bicycles and Motorcycles: Two-Wheeled Transportation and Material Culture (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), 189 pp., $80

Harald Fischer-Tiné, Pidgin-Knowledge: Wissen und Kolonialismus (Zurich and Berlin: Diaphanes, 2013), 104 pp., €10

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (New York: Doubleday, 2016), 320 pp., $26.95

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Cycles of Cathay

A History of the Bicycle in China

Edward J.M. Rhoads

Introduced into China in the late nineteenth century, the bicycle had to compete with a variety of alternative modes of personal transportation that for a number of years limited its appeal and utility. Thus, during the 1920s and 1930s it took a back seat to the hand-pulled rickshaw and during the 1940s to the pedicab (cycle rickshaw). It was only in the 1950s that the bicycle became the primary means of transportation for most urban Chinese. For the next four decades, as its use spread from the city to the countryside, China was the iconic “bicycle kingdom.“ Since the 1990s, however, the pedal-powered bicycle has been overtaken by the automobile (and motorcycle). Nevertheless, with the recent appearance and growing popularity of the e-bike, the bicycle may yet play an important role in China's transport modal mix. This overview history of the bicycle in China is based on a wide range of textual sources in English and Chinese as well as pictorial images.

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Robert C. Post, Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology Zachary M. Schrag

Joel Wolfe, Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity J. Brian Freeman

Georgine Clarsen, Eat My Dust: Early Women Motorists Liz Millward

Virginia Scharff and Carolyn Brucken, Home Lands: How Women Made the West Margaret Walsh

Jeffrey W. Alexander, Japan’s Motorcycle Wars: An Industry History Steven L. Thompson

Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile Valentina Fava

Per Lundin, Bilsamhället: Ideologi, expertis och regelskapande i efterkrigstidens Sverige Bård Toldnes

Ruud Filarski and Gijs Mom, Van transport naar mobiliteit: De Transportrevolutie, 1800–1900 and Van transport naar mobiliteit: De Mobiliteitsexplosie, 1895–2005 Donald Weber

William J. Mitchell, Christoper E. Borroni-Bird, and Lawrence D. Burns, Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century Joe Schultz

Randal O’Toole, Gridlock: Why We’re Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It Bob Post

Edna Bonacich and Jake B. Wilson, Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor, and the Logistics Revolution Vaclav Smil

Ian Carter, British Railway Enthusiasm Stephen Cutcliffe