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DATE: October 4, 2004

The social, economic, political and cultural impacts of transportation
will be the focus of international meeting at UM-Dearborn Nov. 4-7

DEARBORN---More than 120 scholars from around the world are expected to explore how transportation has affected urban development, human cultures, business practices and national economies at a conference to be held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Nov. 4-7.

"This conference reflects the broadest interpretation of what the word 'mobility' means," according to Bruce Pietrykowski, UM-Dearborn economics professor and director of the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, one of the conference coordinators.

"The International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility" will include presentations on a range of topics from the advertising strategies of car companies to the role of railroads in national identity, from urban traffic regulation to the influence of gender and race in vehicle design, from the diffusion of the automobile in Europe to "the history of speed."

"This conference involves more than the history of transport technology, although that is an important topic," Pietrykowski said. "Mobility is also a political, social and cultural force that has influenced our perception of time and space. Think of the architecture designed specifically around the automobile or attempts to create oases of pedestrian travel in the middle of busy cities or 'just-in-time' manufacturing--each of these affects our patterns of mobility."

The keynote speaker will be David Harvey, professor of anthropology at the City University of New York, whose books on the history of cities and globalization are required reading for courses in urban planning, sociology, and political economy, according to Pietrykowski. "He is a geographer first and foremost, who revolutionized the field by examining how urban spaces are affected by social hierarchies, class relations and power structures," Pietrykowski said.

Harvey will speak at 4 p.m. Nov. 4 in the auditorium of the Social Sciences Building at the UM-Dearborn campus. His talk, titled "The Fetishism of Technology: Causes and Consequences," is part of the campus's Text in Community series and is free and open to the public.

The conference was organized by the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, which was founded at a meeting in the Netherlands in 2003. "We agreed at that time to hold our second meeting in the Detroit area because of the region's wealth of resources and historic sites integral to the history of transportation and mobility," Pietrykowski said.

There will be approximately 80 scholarly presentations during the four-day conference, which also will include visits to numerous sites connected to the automotive heritage of the Detroit area, including the Henry Ford Estate, the Ford Rouge plant and the Diego Rivera mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Other members of the UM-Dearborn faculty who will speak at the conference include Chancellor Daniel Little, Profs. Georgina Hickey, Jason Weems and Jonathan Smith, and Kae Halonen, a researcher affiliated with the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage.

Those interested in attending the conference should contact Sharie Beard at sbeard@umich.edu or (313) 593-4925.

In addition to the University of Michigan-Dearborn and its Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, support for the conference came from the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, The Henry Ford and the MotorCities Automotive National Heritage Area.

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