Vol. V, No 2, May 2008
When Gijs, more than four years ago, accepted the presidency of our association, no one could predict that within five years we would have built a blossoming community that meanwhile organized five successful conferences, brought new life to the Journal of Transport History, initiated several scholarly Theme Groups and is now considering whether to organise a summer school and publish a yearbook. We are also struggling with the question of whether the field needs more than one journal, because the number of good submissions is steadily growing.
As a matter of fact, some of our fellow T2M pioneers were quite skeptical about the feasibility of such a project. Perhaps more as a reaction than as a conscious strategy Gijs stated then that if within a couple of years T2M did not have 300 members it would not have been worth the effort. He was wrong in a double sense: we have not reached this size yet, but nevertheless the association seems to have stabilized and much-needed energy can slowly be liberated to invest in the further rethinking and reformulating of the field of transport and mobility history.
This is not the first time that we usher as our opinion that we are at a critical junction of our young history: we have not yet reached the critical mass to really put our mark on academic and related institutional practices, and we badly need some introspection to ask ourselves where we should be going. During the next mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee we will dedicate a major part of our time to this issue and hopefully can report positively during our next meeting in Ottawa.
Gijs is much relieved to know that meanwhile our new president-elect Hans Dienel supports him in preparing this meeting and starts to be involved in the daily running of the T2M bus (or should we say: train?). After Gijs’ visit to Berlin a fortnight ago (where the restyled German Traffic and Technology Museum just opened a new exhibit on future oil-free mobility) we agreed that for the remainder of this year we would co-sign the president’s message (which from now on will thus become a presidents’ message) as an exercise in cooperation and the gradual handing over of presidential responsibilities. Upon explicit request of Hans by September of this year the presidency will be expanded with some vice-prsidents, each with their own portfolio to share the burden of management. Gijs is very much looking forward to this change of the guard, because after five years of mainly administrative work he is really enjoying the prospect of dedicating his time to more content-related issues. Building a field is as much about institutional practice as it is about the generation of knowledge and new skills. We are convinced that a lot of members are of the same opinion, and hope that they decide to come forward during the current year to take on one or more duties within the Executive Committee or in one of the several Theme Groups.
Gijs Mom, President, Hans-Liudger Dienel, President-Elect