Wesleyan University

Humanities Stéphanie Ponsavady 03/30/2015


In a sense, cars and metaphors are all means of transport, instruments used in order to produce a displacement. In France, the rise of the automobile coincided with another movement, the nation’s expansion overseas in the late 19th century. How have cars and literature powered France’s mobility? From automobile pioneering in Indochina to Roland Barthes’s Mythologies, I invite us to take cars and metaphors for a spin in reality. My approach encompasses not only corporeal movement of people and the physical transport of objects but also imaginative travel, the vehicles and metaphors that have enabled and coerced some to live mobile lives and others to remain immobile in France and its colonial empire. By bringing together history and literature, my presentation highlights the relationships between local and global networks of mobility and brings into focus the political projects inherent in the power relations inherited from French colonization and now informing processes of globalization.

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