Gijs Mom and Nanny Kim
Making a Living: Bicycle-related Professions in Shanghai, 1897–1949
The bicycle so thoroughly transformed transportation in China that the country was known as “the land of cyclists” by the late twentieth century. Concerning the global popularization of industrial products, past research mainly focused on the interaction between the introduced commodities and their nonWestern consumers. In order to take the analysis of the modern transformation beyond Western objects and passive receivers, this article explores how Chinese people came to make a living from bicycles. This investigation traces the manifold transitions of the Chinese bicycle business in Shanghai during the tumultuous half-century from 1897 to 1949.
The Firedrake: Local Society and Train Transport in Zhejiang Province in the 1930s
The Hangzhou-Jiangshan railway across Zhejiang province was built in the early 1930s, connecting the mountainous interior to the coastal area. The construction in the context of military strategy enjoyed high government attention and was implemented with personnel and a workforce brought into the area. Drawing on literary writings, archival documents, and oral histories, this article traces the range of attitudes, reactions, and activities among the inhabitants of rural towns and villages in the area of Quzhou and Jinhua as well as migrants who had left for cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou. The name “redrake” created by locals captures attitudes of mingled apprehension in the fact that a dragon, which is always associated with water, becomes a re-creature; curiosity and excitement in the association with dragon lantern processions; and practical usefulness in the closeness to the train that is literally a “re-vehicle” in Chinese.
SPECIAL SECTION ON RICKSHAWS
Rickshaws in South Asia: Introduction to the Special Section
M. William Steele
The rickshaw, invented in Japan in 1869, helped to produce a revolution in mobility for millions of people in Asia and Africa. By the 1930s, the everyday mobility offered by the hand-pulled rickshaw gave way to several of its off spring: the cycle-rickshaw, trishaw, pedicab, cyclo, becak, and the auto-rickshaw. The three articles in this special section describe how these “primitive” non-motorized vehicles continue in the twenty-first century to play a valuable and irreplaceable role in urban and rural transport in South Asian cities. The authors are traffic experts, geographers, and urban planners who live and work in contemporary rickshaw cultures. Despite the reality of urban hazards, the articles describe cultural, economic, and environmental reasons to keep rickshaws on the road, now and in the future.
Mobility in the Margins: Hand-pulled Rickshaws in Kolkata
Gopa Samanta and Sumita Roy
This article examines the marginal mobilities of hand-pulled rickshaws and rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata, India. It traces the politics of rickshaw mobilities, showing how debates about modernity and the informal economy frequently overshadow the experience of the marginalized community of hand-rickshaw pullers. It shows how the hand-pulled rickshaw rarely becomes the focus of research or debate because of its marginal status—technologically (being more primitive than the cycle rickshaw); geographically (operating only in Kolkata city); and in terms of the social status of the operators (the majority being Bihari migrants in Kolkata). Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative research, this study focuses on the backgrounds of the rickshaw-pullers, their strategies for earning livelihoods, the role of social networks in their life and work, and their perceptions of the profession—including their views of the state government’s policy of seeking to abolish hand-pulled rickshaws. The article concludes by addressing the question of subalternity.
Gendered Experiences of Mobility: Travel Behavior of Middle-class Women in Dhaka City
Shahnaz Hussain and Umme Habiba
This article examines the travel behavior of middle-class women in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh and one of the world’s largest and most densely populated cities. In particular, we focus on women’s use of non-motorized rickshaws to understand the constraints on mobility for women in Dhaka. Primary research, in the form of an empirical study that surveyed women in six neighborhoods of Dhaka, underpins our findings. Our quantitative and qualitative data presents a detailed picture of women’s mobility through the city. We argue that although over 75 percent of women surveyed chose the rickshaw as their main vehicle for travel, they did so within a complex framework of limited transport options. Women’s mobility patterns have been further complicated by government action to decrease congestion by banning rickshaws from major roads in the city. Our article highlights the constraints on mobility that middle-class women in Dhaka face including inadequate services, poorly maintained roads, adverse weather conditions, safety and security issues, and the difficulty of confronting traditional views of women in public arenas.
Rickshaw Pullers and the Cycle of Unsustainability in Dhaka City
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.
The Future of Rickshaws: Concluding Thoughts and Wider Issues
IDEAS IN MOTION
A Journey with Cycle Rickshaws: Identity, Respect, Equality, Space, and Sustainable Futures
MOBILITY AND ART REVIEW
Art on the Move: Rickshaw Painters in Bangladesh
The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India Since 1989
J. Daniel Elam
Mediating Cultural Transfer: Tran Anh Hung’s Films About Vietnam
Rodney Wai-chi Chu, Leopoldina Fortunati, Pul-Lam Law, and Shanhua Yang, eds., Mobile Communication and Greater China. Review by Daniele Massaccesi
Pui-Lam Law, ed., New Connectivities in China: Virtual, Actual and Local Interactions. Review by Emiliano Treré
Cara Wallis, Technomobility in China: Young Migrant Women and Mobile Phones. Review by Regine Buschauer
James Fallows, China Airborne: The Test of China’s Future. Review by Liz Millward
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Review by Chandra D. Bhimull
Rila Mukherjee, ed., Pelagic Passageways: The Northern Bay of Bengal Before Colonialism. Review by Debojyoti Das
Jamal J. Elias, On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan. Review by Tracy Nichols Busch
Arundhati Roy, Walking with the Comrades. Review by Anindyo Roy
Ruchira Ganguly-Scrase and Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, eds., Rethinking Displacement: Asia Pacific Perspectives. Review by Carmelo Buscema
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