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Cycling and social complexity: An ethnography of (bi)cycle travel and urban transformations


Cycling and social complexity: An ethnography of (bi)cycle travel and urban transformations

Soliz, Aryana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5172-4947 (2021) Cycling and social complexity: An ethnography of (bi)cycle travel and urban transformations. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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As policy makers grapple with rapid urbanization and motorization processes, human-scale transportation modes such as cycling are gaining new urgency, offering non-polluting alternatives to automobility. At the same time, urban planning paradigms tend to focus on purely technical solutions to transportation challenges, leaving questions of history, culture and social power aside. This dissertation contributes to a small but growing field of situated research investigating the role of socio-cultural life in fostering and inhibiting cycling practices as well as the wider potential of (bi)cycle histories in revealing the workings of power across urbanizing landscapes. Based on archival and ethnographic fieldwork from the Mexican bajío, it argues that while the bicycle may appear as a simple tool for promoting urban wellbeing and environmental sustainability, cycling practices nevertheless have layers of meaning, historical complexity, invisible work and affective significance and that are not always self-evident. These complexities are not only significant on a historiographical level, but they also have implications in terms of how cycling is mobilized in new urban-planning agendas, the possibilities and limitations of cycling infrastructure in different contexts as well as whose voices are included and excluded from these discussions. Emphasizing the heterogeneity of (bi)cycling, this dissertation aims to reframe cycling research with greater attention to social complexity, advancing critical theories in feminist science and technology studies, mobility justice as well as Latin American theorizing on ways of knowing otherwise. Rather than simply reflecting on cycling politics, this dissertation mobilizes bicycle and tricycle trajectories as an opening for considering a variety of complex challenges relating to the past, present and future of cities. Not only do cycling pathways lead us through diverse transportation histories, they can also reveal the need for attention to the ways that social inequities traverse broad regimes of (im)mobility and particular contours of resistance; an understanding of the processes through which social groups contest mobility injustices and formulate alternatives for building inclusive cities; as well as an appreciation of participatory, gender-transformative and insurgent approaches to urban design.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Soliz, Aryana
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Social and Cultural Analysis
Date:5 February 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hetherington, Kregg
Keywords:Cyling; active travel; urban history; infrastructure; gender; social complexity; mobility justice; placemaking; ethnography; Mexico
ID Code:990421
Deposited By: Aryana Soliz
Deposited On:16 Jun 2022 15:12
Last Modified:16 Jun 2022 15:12
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