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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/sm6w-fh05


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Bypassing the Street: Metros, Jitneys, and Aerial Cable Cars





The demands of contemporary capitalism are pressing against the infrastructural limits of cities, stalling traffic and bottlenecking roadways. From so-called global cities dominated by financialization, to back office hubs supercharged by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Metros, jitneys, and aerial cable cars have become foundational systems connecting labor residing in ever more distant peripheries to jobs located in ever higher skylines by circumventing ever more congested roadways. Yet despite the importance of these transit systems to the workings of major cities across much of the world, their stations, trains, and buses have too often been overlooked as mere sites of locomotion rather than as complex social fields integral to the formation of urban life and subjects. This panel brings ethnographic attention to bear upon mass transit systems through a discussion that will shuttle beneath the streets of Bucharest, Delhi, and Taiwan; wind along the surface of Mexico City; and rise above the streets of Bogota, for example, to explore the following: How is the relationship between mass transit stations and the street imagined and effected? What kinds of populations turn towards mass transit systems and which do not or cannot? How are these systems materially staged and what kinds of rider experiences are they designed to support? What kinds of relationships and experiences take shape within trains, buses, and cars? How do these systems contribute to street life more broadly? What projects of belonging do mass transit stations facilitate, from connecting riders to city centers to imagined global middle classes to visions of modernity? Given the volume and mobility of ridership, what methodological challenges do mass transit stations, trains, and lines pose for ethnographic analysis? This panel’s discussion, ultimately, explores mass transit systems in order to bring greater analytical clarity to the study of contemporary urbanism.


Transcript English (automatic)

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