Starter Kit: Post-colonial Urban Public Transport Infrastructure as Sites of Repair and Resistance

Description

This starter kit will be useful to anyone who wants to think about theories of repair/maintenance/care/innovation alongside objects/things that undergo infrastructural/cultural transformation in the postcolonial setting.

There are several things in history for which repair practices have been forgotten or that need to be remembered and re-included into the epistemology of Repair, Maintenance, and Care. Steven J. Jackson, in his chapter titled ‘Rethinking Repair’, explores the Ship breaking industry of Bangladesh as captured in Edward Burtynsky’s photographs and makes a crucial observation: that ships are most often represented in their “moments of birth, or heights of strength and glory: the christening before the maiden voyage, rounding the cape, facing down the Spanish fleet, and so on” (226). Jackson through Burtynsky helps visualise the processes of dismantling ships post their glory days by asking the simple question: “But what happens (or happened) to these ships?” (226).

I find the question “what happened?” to be of great service to me in thinking about repair practices. The question helps think about events post-production and post-consumption and to simultaneously demonstrate care. I begin by wondering about the broad question: What happened to the machines that were instrumental to colonisation? This question leads me to think specifically about the WWII Willys MB jeeps and its transformation into the Filipino Jeepney.

Framing

Winner, Langdon. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus, vol. 109, no. 1, 1980, pp. 121–36, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20024652.

ARNOLD, DAVID, and ERICH DeWALD. “Everyday Technology in South and Southeast Asia: An Introduction.” Modern Asian Studies, vol. 46, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1–17., https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/modern-asian-studies/article.

Foundations

Literature and Poetry 

Meñez, Herminia Quimpo. “The Art and Language of Manila’s Jeepney Drivers”. Explorations In Philippine Folklore. Quezon City: Ateneo de University Press, 1996.

Gemino H. Abad. “Jeepney”. Carbó, Nick. Returning a Borrowed Tongue: Poems by Filipino And Filipino American Writers. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press , 1995. (link to poem).

From the Abstract:

“In the early years of U.S. colonization, Filipino poets were forced to “borrow” a foreign tongue; today, fifty years after independence, they return the borrowed tongue with lyrical poems about migration, immigration, exile, nostalgia, desire, poverty, exploitation, racism, American culture, love, and invisibility.”

Photography, Art and Aesthetics

Claudio Sieber/Barcroft Media. “Farewell to jeepneys: Philippine transport changes gear – in pictures. The Guardian. May 2019.

Chattopadhyay, Swati. “The Art of Auto-Mobility: Vehicular Art and the Space of Resistance in Calcutta.” Journal of Material Culture, vol. 14, no. 1, Mar. 2009, pp. 107–139.

Repair, Maintenance, and Care Approaches

Jackson, Steven J. “Rethinking Repair.” In Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality and Society, 221–40. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2014.

Mattern, Shannon. “Maintenance and Care.” Places Journal, 2018, https://placesjournal.org/article/maintenance-and-care/.

Graham, Stephen, and Nigel Thrift. “Out of Order: Understanding Repair and Maintenance.” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 1–25.

The Maintainers. https://themaintainers.org/

Colonial and Neo-colonial Transport Infrastructure

Hyde, Charles K. Arsenal of Democracy : The American Automobile Industry in World War II. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2013. Print. Great Lakes Books.

Zwick, Austin. “Welcome to the Gig Economy: Neoliberal Industrial Relations and the Case of Uber.” GeoJournal, vol. 83, no. 4, 2018, pp. 679–691.

Waste

Ty, Michelle. “Trash and the Ends of Infrastructure.” MSF Modern Fiction Studies 61, no. 4 (2015): 606–30. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/605503.

GALLERY

Exhibit 1

Left: Willys MB Jeep, 1943, Wikimedia commons. Right: Sarao Jeepney, Philippines, 1973, Source: Wikimedia commons. Click and Drag the slider to see both images.

Exhibit 2

Street scene Manila, Philippines, October 10, 1949
Street scene Manila, Philippines, October 10, 1949
Crowded street with original Jeepneys and a taxicab.
This picture was dated the same day as pictures taken in Malate, Manila, Philippines.
 Photograph taken by a “Life” magazine photographer.
Photographer: Jack Birns
For personal non-commercial use only
This image is copyrighted by © Time Inc.
(Source Link) (Creative Commons License)
Tondo WWII clean up east of Tondo Church, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 28, 1945
Tondo WWII clean up east of Tondo Church, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 28, 1945
This picture was taken in the area of the intersection of today’s Juan Luna Street and P. Herrera Street looking west towards Santo Niño de Tondo Church.
 Note on the back of the picture: “Members of the 43rd Engineer Construction Battalion, clear debris from burned and shelled areas of Tondo, Manila in preparation of large medical supply dumps, Feb. 28, 1945”
 The Battle for Manila was still going on south of the Pasig River at this time.
 Signal Corps Photo. Photographer: Lieutenant Shepherd
US National Archives
(Source Link) (Creative Commons License)
Traffic along Quezon Blvd., Quiapo, Philippines, Oct. 10, 1949 (2)
Traffic along Quezon Blvd., Quiapo, Philippines, Oct. 10, 1949 (2)
Picture taken from the Quezon Boulevard walk over. Quiapo Church is on the left, Times Theater is on the right.
 Photograph taken by a “Life” magazine photographer.
Photographer: Jack Birns
For personal non-commercial use only
This image is copyrighted by © Time Inc.
(Source Link) (Creative Commons License)
LIFE Theater north of Quiapo Church along Quezon Blvd. Manila, Philippines, Oct. 1949
LIFE Theater north of Quiapo Church along Quezon Blvd. Manila, Philippines, Oct. 1949
Looking north. A very busy day in Quiapo, Manila. American WWII Jeeps converted to Jeepney passenger carriers.
 Photograph taken by a “Life” magazine photographer.
Photographer: Jack Birns
For personal non-commercial use only
This image is copyrighted by © Time Inc.
(Source Link) (Creative Commons License)
San Agustin Church, before and after, March 4, 1945 - Aug. 18, 2018
San Agustin Church, before and after, March 4, 1945 – Aug. 18, 2018
Rear corner of the San Agustin Church at General Luna & Sta. Potenciana Streets, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. An American shell caused the large hole in the church during the WWII Battle for Manila, Feb. 1945.
(Source Link) (Creative Commons License)

Exhibit 3

Screenshot taken by author from Jeep website Source Link
Screenshot taken by author from Jeep website Source Link
Screenshot taken by author from Jeep website Source Link

Exhibit 4

A typical jeepney, which plies the Legazpi-Daraga route, waits for passengers in front of the LCC Supermarket along Penaranda Street, Legazpi City, Albay, Philippines.
Source Wikimedia Commons
Decorated Pakistani truck Source Wikimedia Commons
Tap Tap, Port au Prince, Haiti Source Wikimedia Commons
Tuk-Tuk, Herat, Afghanistan Source Wikimedia Commons

Exhibit 5

CNG scooters in Dhaka Source Wikimedia Commons
CNG-powered Autorickshaw in New Delhi Source Wikimedia Commons
Bajaj auto-rickshaw next to the Galle Fort in Sri Lanka Source Wikimedia Commons

Exhibit 6

Screenshot of Uber App Interface displaying Uber Autos, Kochi, Kerala, 2020 (Screenshot taken by author)
Screenshot of Uber App Interface displaying Uber Autos, Kochi, Kerala, 2020 (Screenshot taken by author)
Screenshot of Ola App Interface displaying Ola Autos, Kochi, Kerala, 2020 (Screenshot taken by author)
Screenshot of Ola App Interface displaying Ola Autos, Kochi, Kerala, 2020 (Screenshot taken by author)