Georgine Clarsen and Gijs Mom
Indigènes into Signs: Incorporating Indigenous Pedestrians on Colonial Roads in 1920s and 1930s French Indochina
In Colonial Indochina, the introduction of motorized transportation led French authorities to focus their attention on the issue of pedestrian walking. The political and economic imperatives of the colonial state shaped the modern phenomenon of traffic, which isolated the indigenous body as a sign of otherness. The unruly indigenous pedestrian expressed a discursive and experiential crisis that questioned colonialism itself. This article invites us to examine the political potential of walking by considering Henri Lefebvre’s notion of dressage and its limitations in a colonial setting through various examples, from French accounts of indigenous walking in daily activities to political disruptions of traffic by pedestrian demonstrators and the incorporation of indigenous bodies in road safety policies. Repeatedly, colonial subjects eluded, criticized, or undermined the rules of the road and the colony by the simple act of walking.
The Mule Caravans of Western Yunnan: An Oral History of the Muleteers of Zhaozhou
Ma Jiangxiong and Ma Cunzhao
Mule caravans established a network across physical, political, and ethnic boundaries that integrated Southwest China, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. This article is a first exploration of this little-known mobile network. Based mainly on oral history, it focuses on the mule caravans based in Zhaozhou in western Yunnan from the late Qing to the 1940s, when the first motor roads were constructed. The investigation assembles horse and mule technologies and trade organization in detail in order to reconstruct the role and standing of transporters and their networks in local society, in the regional setting, in a volatile political environment, and in the face of challenging natural conditions.
SPECIAL SECTION ON RETHINKING MOBILITY HISTORY IN ASIA
History, Historiography, and Be(com)ing on the Move: Introduction to the Special Section
M. William Steele and Weiqiang Lin
Racialized Capacities and Transgressive Mobility: “Asian” Laborers and “Western” Urban Transportation in Colonial Manila and Singapore
Michael D. Pante
This article places race at the analytical center of a comparative urban transport history of early twentieth-century Singapore and Manila. It focuses on motorization, as seen in the influx and eventual dominance of streetcars and automobiles. The British and the American colonizers turned these Western-made vehicles into symbols of colonial modernity, defined in racialized terms. They regarded the different “Asiatics” as naturally ill-equipped to handle streetcars and automobiles, and when the colonized proved them wrong, the colonizers framed these acts using the racialist discourse of “potentiality.” Nevertheless, the native transport laborers appropriated motorized vehicles in ways that the colonizers did not imagine. Machines presented the natives a world of knowledge, which was maximized for financial gain. The acquisition of various forms of knowledge thus revealed a paradox of the civilizing mission: the colonizers exposed natives to the world of civilized knowledge, but the acquisition of this knowledge disrupted colonial discipline.
Imperial Mobility: Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire
Histories of modern mobility often assume that modern forms of movement arrived in East Asia as part of a universal process of historical development. This article shows that the valorization of modern mobility in East Asia emerged out of the specific context of Euro-American imperial encroachment and Japanese imperial expansion. Through an examination of the tropes of opening and connecting, the article argues that the mobility of the modern can be understood as an “imperial” mobility in two senses: one, as a key component in European, American, and Japanese arguments for the legitimacy of empire; and two, as a global theory of history that constituted circulation as a measure of historical difference.
Mobility on the Move: Rickshaws in Asia
M. William Steele
The rickshaw initiated an explosion in personal mobility in Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Invented in Japan in 1869, by 1872 there were forty thousand and by 1875 over one hundred thousand of the new two-wheel vehicles on the streets of Tokyo. The number reached a peak in 1896 with 210,000 countrywide. The rickshaw (in Japanese, jinrikisha) quickly spread to Asia, to Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1874, to Singapore and Calcutta in 1880. By 1900, the rickshaw had spread throughout the continent, bringing with it new mobility to an emerging urban middle class. Moreover, for many people in Asia, the rickshaw alongside the locomotive, came to symbolize modernity. This article will explore routes of diffusion, focusing on the role played by Akiha Daisuke and his adopted son, Akiha Daisuke II, Japan’s largest exporters of rickshaws, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Commentary: The Cultural Diffusion of Asian Innovations in Transport Mobilities
IDEAS IN MOTION
Fuels and Flows: Rethinking Histories of Transport and Mobility through Energy
Despite obvious links, the relationship between transport and energy remains generally understudied among historians of transport. By briefly examining the ways in which energy resources and energy flows have intersected with transport patterns, transport costs, and transport technology, this thought piece makes a case for bringing considerations of energy into our writing of transport histories. It goes on to argue that a focus on energy and its movement also offers new insights and objects of study to those with broader interests in questions of mobility, for in tracing energy’s pathways, we can better see how social, political, and environmental phenomena of varying scales have been constituted and connected in motion.
MOBILITY AND ART
LIVE Singapore! The Urban Data Collider
Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
A Historical Railroad Journey: Review of the Railway Museum in Saitama City, Japan
Jessamyn R. Abel
Migration and Modernization in China: One Family’s Sacrifice
Yogesh Sharma, ed., Coastal Histories: Society and Ecology in Pre-Modern India
Jason Lim, A Slow Ride into the Past: The Chinese Trishaw Industry in Singapore 1942–1983
Xiang Biao, Brenda S.A. Yeoh, and Mika Toyota, eds., Return: Nationalizing Transnational Mobility in Asia
Ajaya Kumar Sahoo and Johannes G. de Kruijf, eds., Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora
Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde, Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora
Yuk Wah Chan
Christine B.N. Chin, Cosmopolitan Sex Workers: Women and Migration in a Global City
Lilly Yu and Kimberly Kay Hoang
David Walker and Agnieszka Sobocinska, eds., Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century
Valeska Huber, Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond, 1869–1914
Bieke Cattoor and Bruno De Meulder, Figures Infrastructures: An Atlas of Roads and Railways
Klaus Benesch, ed., Culture and Mobility