Thursday / April 09, 2015
Histories of transport, mobility and environment
Socialist drive: The First Auto Works and the contradictions of connectivity in the early People’s Republic of China
In 1956, the First Auto Works, the People’s Republic of China’s first automobile manufacturing plant, began production in the city of Changchun. The vehicles that rolled off its assembly line, most notably the ‘Liberation’ truck, became part of a growing transportation assemblage through which the socialist economy moved. The automobile drove many of the processes that were to define Chinese Communist rule, including the transformation of the built environment, the pursuit of industrial modernity, the coordination of the planned economy, and the division of city and countryside. Originally intended for the integration of industrial and agricultural sectors, motorised mobility was to become a means of state extraction in rural communes during the tragedy that was the Great Leap Forward.
Negotiating the waters: Canoe and steamship mobility in the Pacific Northwest
The transition from canoe to steamship on the remote Skagit and Nooksack Rivers in Washington Territory occurred in a brief period of settlement in the nineteenth century. Diaries and historical accounts from the Pacific Northwest describe settlers’ perceptions of mobility derived from communities they had left in their journey west. As they confronted an indigenous mode of travel rooted in place, they adapted and then usurped the canoe, bringing steamships to the Skagit and then Nooksack River. Steamship travel required a complex infrastructure of cleared rivers, supply chains, mechanical knowledge and observational navigation, linking travelers with a larger, regional network. The advent of steamships triggered significant environmental changes to the riverine landscape and the broader region.
Rebuilding the city, leaving it behind: Transportation and the environmental crisis in turn-of-the-century American cities
As U.S. cities burgeoned in the late nineteenth century, their environmental problems multiplied. In response, some urban elites worked to rebuild the city to alleviate its environmental ills; others relocated to more environmentally enticing surroundings in new suburban developments. For members of both groups, new forms of transportation infrastructure profoundly shaped how they responded to the era’s environmental crisis. Whereas efforts to rebuild and retrofit downtown were hampered by the difficulties and expense of working in densely built and populated areas, efforts to build on the urban fringe faced few serious obstacles. As a result, the most significant late nineteenth-century attempts to use transportation to remake city dwellers’ relationships with nature in the United States – including tools developed with an eye on rebuilding dense city centers – exercised far greater influence on the expanding periphery of cities than on their environmentally fraught cores.
Connect and divide: On the history of the Kiel Canal
The Kiel Canal (built between 1886 and 1895) connects the North Sea and the Baltic for seagoing vessels, yet, being 100 km long, about 10 m deep and 100 m wide, it also divides a landscape. This finding is the starting point for analysing the effects of infrastructure that facilitates communication and exchange but also produces obstructions and rivalries. This article explores the ambiguous effects this piece of infrastructure had on politics, technology, labour, trade and military strategy. The ‘deep ditch’ also had severe environmental consequences that were palpable until well into the twentieth century. By considering both the ‘positive’ and the ‘negative’ of the waterway, the narrative of ‘connect-and-divide’ avoids the still-too-often told affirmative story of transport infrastructure. Instead, it and opens the outlook to a multi-faceted history of transport infrastructures.
Surveys and Speculations
The bird’s-eye view: Toward an environmental history of aviation
A picture worth forty-one words: Charles Elton, introduced species and the 1936 Admiralty map of British Empire shipping
Landscapes of intensification: Transport and energy in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, 1820–1930
Authors: Pirie, Gordon; Revill, George; Zoellner, Tom
Tracking railway histories
Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine) since 1920 Wilson, Holly Eileen
Carlos Barciela López, Antonio di Vittorio, Giulio Fenicia and Nicola Ostuni (eds), Vie e mezzi di comunicazione in Italia e Spagna in età contemporanea (Gabriele Balbi)
Dorian Gerhold, Bristol’s Stage Coaches (Dan,Bogart)
John H. White, Wet Britches and Muddy Boots: A History of Travel in Victorian America (Kurt Bell)
Nathalie Roseau, Aerocity. Quand l’avion fait la ville (Koos Bosma)
Steven Brindle, Paddington Station, Its History and Architecture (Harry Gregory)
Susan E. Alcock, John Bodel, and Richard A. Talbert (eds), Highways, Byways, and Road Systems in the Pre-Modern World (Alfred Hirt)
Ralf Roth and Henry Jacolin (eds), Eastern European Railways in Transition:Nineteenth to Twenty-First Centuries (Felix Jeschke)
Corinne Mulley and Martin Higginson (eds), Companion to Road Passenger Transport History: Public Road Passenger Transport in Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (Nick Richardson)
Melina Piglia, Autos, Rutas y Turismo: El Automóvil Club Argentino y el Estado (Dhan Zunino Singh)
Michael Boyden, Hans Krabbendam and Liselotte Vandenbussche (eds), Tales of Transit: Narrative Migrant Spaces in Atlantic Perspective, 1850–1950 (Brian Van Wyck)
Valeska Huber, Channelling Mobilities:Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal and Beyond, 1869–1914 (Brian Van Wyck)
Peter Maw, Transport and the Industrial City. Manchester and the Canal Age, 1750–1850 (Simon Ville)
Drew Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration between Europe and the United States, 1900–1914 (Simone Wegge)