Accepted paper:

Inside and outside the bus: politics of perception through wheels on streets.


Subhashim Goswami (Shiv Nadar University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that the dynamic of a street in relationship to a set of wheels that traverse it allows a peculiar understanding of not just the street but also of people as set apart in the way they perceive one another.

Paper long abstract:

A wooden bus made by hand, snakes its way down winding hills from the village to the city early in the morning and back by afternoon once all chores are done. These buses locally known as bazaar buses are "stinky" and "unsafe" and "crowded" for the people of the city while the people in the bus - all from the villages, tensely look out the window in anticipation to reach the city and buy their provisions which could vary from a match box to socks to tin sheets. Most often the driver and the conductor buy everything that people ask for. The people in the bus do not trust the city and the people of the city never ride the bus.

This paper in the form of a written paper and an image/text installation draws from more than a year's ethnographic research on these buses to comment on how does one research perception and how researching perception allows for an understanding of the street to emerge in terms of a distinct dynamic that sets apart a set of people emotionally while bringing them into a transactional exchange materially. This paper explores this peculiar affective cohesion and collision that gets played out when you think of a street through a distinct set of wheels that traverse it - the wheels of wooden bazaar buses in the hills of North-Eastern India.

panel D01
Streetscapes: affective encounters between People and Things