Avec Ruth Oldenziel, Professor, Eindhoven University of Technology, History Division of Technology, Innovation, Society.

Jeudi 17 novembre 2016, 17h à19h

Institut des sciences de la communication
20 rue Berbier-du-Mets, Paris 13e
Métro 7 « Les Gobelins »

Séminaire Histoire des sciences, histoire de l’innovation

Accounting Tricks : How Pedestrians & Cyclists were Thrown under the Bus, 1910s-1940s

17 novembre 2016, 17h à 19h, ISCC

Accueil > Évènements > Séminaires et ateliers réguliers > Histoire des sciences, histoire de l’innovation > 2016/2017



As Theodore Porter has argued many years ago, counting is a highly political act. The world of statistics was born from democratic states and their engineering elites seeking justification for creating the public good. The love and belief in statistics happened particularly when elites were less secure about the power they were meting out. In this research paper, I show in detail how a car-governed future was blueprinted at the expense of mostly working-class pedestrians and cyclists at PIARC’s international gathering in1926. Experts discursively relegated pedestrians and cyclists to the basement of history by making the distinction between “slow” and “fast” traffic. Fast traffic was the norm for the future and for modernity ; slow traffic the deviant and old-fashioned mobility mode. To allow cars to achieve their full technological promise of high speed, slow traffic needed to be excluded. With slow traffic out of the way, the separation would let cars move expeditiously and attain their greatest speed potential. The international gathering in 1926 offers a window into how the blueprint was hammered out through setting international standards for counting and design for an automotive future for decades to come.