For Byzantinists, it is more important than for mobility historians to meet intercontinentally, and to experience physically that there are more scholars around in the world which are thrilled by similar questions and approaches. Historical studies in tranport, traffic and mobility are easier to communicate to a broader audience than byzantinistic themes. But even for us, it is a seldom and wonderful experience to take a bath in a community of colleagues with similar interests and background, with new questions and approaches on topics which seem to be relevant for the own research.
Back from Lucerne, I am remembering a most stimulating conference on historical and contemporary studies on transport, traffic and mobility and its relations to energy and innovation. Only in recent years, transport has become the largest and fastest growing user of energy. The political and environmental dimensions were underlined by the three plenary sessions with the business historian Patrick Fridenson (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris), the environmental historian Christian Pfister (University of Berne) and the transportation scientist Kay Axhausen (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich), which framed a set of 23 sessions at the Lucerne conference. Around 150 scholars gathered in a beautiful surrounding and experienced optimal conditions for intellectual disputes: the Swiss Transport Museum with its new road transport exhibition, the TEE excursions, the Alpine scenery, a glamorous and little morbide 19. Century Grand Hotel (my favourity hotel type), a Swiss organisation at it’s best, the Guggenmusi at the banquet and many old and new friends from more than 25 different countries. I think, I can say for all participants: We are very thankful to the Swiss organizers of the conference! Please tell us, how we can pay back what you did for our field and our feeling.
In Lucerne, the Executive Committe of T2M met before the conference for a 1 day strategy workshop to discuss the midterm future of T2M. It became obvious that T2M is developing on the right track but that we need more ressources to realize our high flying plans: We need
- more travel awards for graduate students to attend our conferences,
- a more regular Journal of Transport History (with a third issue per year in the midterm future),
- more actual informations on jobs, programs, books, workshops and conferences in our new homepage,
- summerschools, fellowships, and – not at least – more academic and professional positions in our field,
- and more personal and institutional members in our association.
We thankfully acknowledged the activities to win new institutional and personal members and the publication of our new T2M Yearbook. In several meetings (EC of T2M, EB of JTH, Members Meeting of T2M), we discussed the situation of our Journal of Transport History. In January there will be a meeting at Manchester University Press to find a way how JTH can come back to appear without delays.
The head of the organizing committee of our Indian host for the next annual conference from December 2-5, 2010 in Delhi, Mr Sanjiv Garg from the Indian Railways and the Chartered Institute of Locistics and Transport – India, could not come to Lucerne to invite us personally to India and to introduce us to the General Theme of the next conference: “Transport as a lifeline of development”. But he confirmed the inviation by mail, e-mail and phone and is working hard with his team to send out the Call for Papers in the next weeks. Many colleagues told me in Lucerne that they are thrilled to go to the Indian subcontinent next year to discuss the role of transport and mobility for societal and economic development. When I looked up the prices for flights from London to Delhi today, I found return-tickets for less than 400 € (and from Chicago to Delhi for less than 600 €). Additionally, I googled the journey with a regular container ships from Hamburg. It takes 24 days to travel from Hamburg over Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Suez, Jeddah, Colombo, and Mumbai to Mundra in Northern India. Tickets (in 2 pers. cabins with shower) cost 1920,- € (one way).
In Delhi, we will meet in the National Rail Museum, the largest Railway Museum in Asia. I encourage you to respond to the Call for Papers
If you know of colleagues in India and neighboring countries, please forward the CfP and invite them to come to Delhi too. I am convinced that the conference will be a big step for the history of transport, traffic and mobility.
This is the last newsletter for 2009. For those of you who take a break over Christmas, I wish you relaxing holidays.
All the best for 2010,