Narrating, experiencing and contesting public transport as public space

This session explores social science and humanities research dealing with public transport
in its diverse contexts. It aims to draw together research, including artistic research, looking at public transport from historical, anthropological, literary studies, urban studies and other perspectives. The session aims to understand public transport as potentially public space: a space that brings together strangers in cities into fleeting encounters, a space where glances and informal rules matter but also a space where conflicts occur and power is exercised. Public transport is narrated by users, activists and planners but it is also experienced daily. Public transport is a source of contestation for those working for different urban imaginations with modern and something seen as “European” public transport becoming a thing to strive for and in other situations — particularly for automobile city advocates — a despised development. Thus, we need to attend to the different aspects produced in public transport and around public transport, including different modes such as buses, trolley buses and particularly the most “urban” of these — trams. This mode of public transport — often preferred to other modes for its smooth ride, usually understandable line system and roomy cars — has become used as urban regeneration tool, but it is also part of urban nostalgia. The urban as phenomenon works through mobility infrastructures and is tied to citizen experiences of urban life.

Acknowledging that public transport, and experiences in and of public transport are formed in an entanglement of material, technological and human elements, we seek papers that deal with public transport from cultural, technological, artistic or conceptual angles. We are particularly interested in papers that concentrate on the history of public transport, changes in public transport, the politics of public transport, and embodied, affective experiences of public transport.

(The abstracts can be either in English or in Finnish)

Session chairpersons:

Silja Laine, Post Doctoral Researcher, Åbo Akademi University, silja.laine@abo.fi, +358 50
544 6231

Jason Finch, Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, jfinch@abo.fi, +358 400107270

Tauri Tuvikene, Senior Researcher at Tallinn University, tauri.tuvikene@tlu.ee, +372 6199
539