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Martians and mechanical cages

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If an anthropologist on Mars observed many areas of Trinidad from far, they would see a society dominated not by humans walking around but by mechanical cages, of varying sizes, travelling for the most part sluggishly. The way day-to-day life functions around these cages and the infrastructure built for them might make any Martian anthropologist think our society was built around the movement and feeding of these mechanical cages rather than the humans inside them. 

Anthropologists on earth have written much about the human relationship to the automobile. For some the car is the number-one way many humans mediate their relationship with the world. Many examine the car as an integral part of cultural life and a tool through which things like class oppression, inequality, and identity can be understood. For example, in Trinidad many people find where other people live not by house number, but by the car parked in front. And how many politicians do we scandalise for the cars they drive?

Some anthropologists describe cars as a “privatisation of space,” dividing people from one another. There may be some people having traffic-inducing conversations from car window to car window, but most of us pass through public space in privatised pods that reinforce the separation between humans.


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