chapter  4
30 Pages

City Moves: Urban Spaces and Motion

The automobile may well be, as John Urry argues, currently “the most important example of a global technology”: its spatial, economic, and cultural dominance in much of the world is at least as signifi cant as the media and computer technologies that, for many, have come to defi ne globalization (“Inhabiting” 1). No other single twentieth-century technology has so dramatically transformed the urban landscape, dominated the industrial economy, and shaped the practices and ethos of everyday life.1 The effects of this transformation were most powerful and prevalent in the fi rst half of the twentieth century in the United States, but since the 1950s, they have become global. By now the growing resistance to the automobile’s domination, particularly in urban areas, is global as well. This chapter will place this centrality of the automobile and our ambivalence towards it in the broader context of the problematic of movement in the space and culture of the modern and then postmodern city. While other modes of movement (such as bicycling) are also important in this context, I shall be primarily concerned here with the juxtaposition of automobile motion with forms of pedestrian motion, in particular those of the dérive and parkour. This juxtaposition, I believe, brings the question of postmodern “city moves” into particularly sharp focus.