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"Traffic"

On the Historical Alignment of Media and Mobility

Dorit Müller and Heike Weber

In a nineteenth century context, traffic could mean both communication and the transportation of goods and people. For instance, the German term “traffic” (Verkehr), referred to “communicating” (verkehren) and to “traffic”/“transportation” (Verkehr). Historically speaking, before the age of telegraphy, any communication over distance required the physical transport of a message or a messenger. Many authors, thus, identified the latter as a fundamental caesura in the relationship between media and mobility, uncoupling media from their previous reliance on physical movement. At the same time, telegraphy and the railway formed a paradigmatic symbiosis that enforced the ongoing duality between media and mobility: traffic depended on and sometimes boosted communication and vice versa. Hence, traffic and media were not disconnected as such, but their connections were rearranged and new ones emerged while others such as the postal services persisted.

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Kathleen Frazer Oswald

Th is article argues that smart transportation—understood as convergences of communication and transportation infrastructure to facilitate movement—has long been manifested in what John Urry has described as nexus systems, or those that require many elements to work synchronously.1 Understanding smart infrastructures as those aligning with twenty-first-century sensibilities concerning technology, convenience, safety, and security, I demonstrate a longer trajectory for this seemingly new trend in three cases: (1) the synchronization of the train with the telegraph, (2) the organization of early automobility, and (3) information-rich/connected automobility and the driverless car. Rethinking smart infrastructure historically reveals a long-existing tendency rather than a new one to manage movement via communication technologies.

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More Than a Two-Way Traffic

Analyzing, Translating, and Comparing Political Concepts from other Cultures

Melvin Richter

In this article, the author examines the case of the Chinese reception of Western political and social concepts as an example to discuss the substantive issues involved in the circulation of concepts between Europe and other parts of the world. Translation and adaptation are key steps in this process of circulation. The question however is not to investigate whether the transposed concept is an accurate transcription of the original, but to understand how this concept acquires new meanings and rhetorical functions within the political and ideological disputes of the society to which is has been transposed. Thus, translation should be understood as a complex, multilayered process of intercultural communication whose result is affected by inequalities of power, but still open to multiple outcomes of agency, even when exercised in colonial or semi-colonial settings.

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More Than a Two-Way Traffic

Analyzing, Translating, and Comparing Political Concepts from other Cultures

Melvin Richter

In this article, the author examines the case of the Chinese reception of Western political and social concepts as an example to discuss the substantive issues involved in the circulation of concepts between Europe and other parts of the world. Translation and adaptation are key steps in this process of circulation. The question however is not to investigate whether the transposed concept is an accurate transcription of the original, but to understand how this concept acquires new meanings and rhetorical functions within the political and ideological disputes of the society to which is has been transposed. Thus, translation should be understood as a complex, multilayered process of intercultural communication whose result is affected by inequalities of power, but still open to multiple outcomes of agency, even when exercised in colonial or semi-colonial settings.

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Bill Luckin

This international overview focuses on the conflict between drivers and non- drivers in Britain, France, the United States, Germany, and Sweden during the interwar period. It suggests that on neither side of the Channel did pro-pedestrian movements make a major impact on national safety legislation. In the U.S.A. automobile-manufacturing interest groups undermined what they perceived to be threatening neighborhood opposition to the onward rush of the automobile. In Germany, which had earlier experienced high levels of anti-car activity, Hitler-inspired commitment to modernization nevertheless led, by the mid-1930s, to the consolidation of punitive measures against erring drivers. In Sweden, however, there appears to have been a high degree of complementarity between pro-motorism and policies designed to minimize dangerous driving. The paper concludes that an understanding of this “deviant“ position may be deepened through scrutiny of the values associated with the Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party (SAP). A similar approach might be applied to the other nations discussed in the article.

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Christopher Kopper

A new historiographic trend in Germany has emerged. Since 2009, scholarly publications in the formerly little-researched subfield of tourism history have proliferated on the German book market. This remarkable surge might not be surprising except for one fact: most of these publications cover the history of tourism in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), a communist state that dissolved in 1990, leaving few remnants in the unified Germany of today.

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Keep Moving, Stay Tuned

The Construction of Flow in and through Radio Traffic Reports

Marith Dieker

With the rise of privatized automobility and the increase of traffic jams, new sociotechnical systems have emerged that aim at traffic control. Radio traffic information has been a key element in these systems. Through a qualitative analysis of historical radio broadcasts of the largest Dutch news station between 1960 and 2000, this article explores the changing format and content of traffic information updates. I will show how the rather formal, detailed, and paternalistic narratives of the traffic reports in the 1960s gave way to more informal, witty, yet flow-controlling traffic information discourse in later decades. I will explain the dynamics involved by drawing on mobility and media studies and by developing two distinct notions of flow, one of which builds conceptually on Raymond Williams’s work on mobile privatization, the other is grounded in the field of traffic management. In so doing, this article aims to contribute to a better understanding of the role of public radio broadcasts in our world of privatized automobility.

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M. Maksudur Rahman and Md. Assadekjaman

Rickshaw pullers are key to sustaining urban mobility in Dhaka city. Yet they are among the most marginalized members of society. Pullers live in precarious urban environments and struggle to rise out of a chronic poverty trap. In their work they face the daily challenges of restrictions on their activities, harassment from passengers and the traffic police, traffic jams and accidents. This article explores the factors which contribute to the unsustainable lifestyles of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city. It suggests that rickshaw pullers might be supported better through licenses, economic incentives, and by prioritizing their contribution to improving Dhaka's traffic system.

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Maxwell Gordon Lay

A motorway is universally defined as a road specifically provided for motor traffic, with dual carriageways separating oncoming traffic, with all intersections grade-separated, and with no access from abutting properties.1 However, these three papers on motorway history will suggest that this definition is not nearly as simple and straightforward as we might previously have assumed. The papers are each significant contributions to our understanding of European motorway development and usefully present the planning and development of motorways from very different perspectives.

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Test Run -- Stop and Go

Mapping Nodes of Mobility and Migration

Michael Hieslmair, Michael Zinganel and Tarmo Pikner

When increasing numbers of people are obliged to spend increasing amounts of time in transit then nodes and hubs alongside major traffic corridors – where traffic comes to halt and exchange between actors en route happens – represent new forms of urbanity and public space, sites where both individuals' routes, routines, and rituals and political transitions and urban transformations can be explored. If we follow Henri Lefebvre's thesis that urbanity is no longer defined by density but by the degree of difference performed at specific places, then these nodes paradigmatically represent new forms of urbanity and public space. What remained largely unexplored in the investigations so far was emphasising these nodes as polyrhythmic ensembles, linked to their temporal adaptability – reacting on daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of traffic flows – and their interdependence on one another.