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Accepted Paper:

Traveling struggles: cycling advocacy as the circulation of ideas, knowledge, and inspiration  
Raul Acosta Garcia (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main)

Paper short abstract:

Activists promoting urban cycling in Latin America have in recent years used multifaceted encounters to share knowledge, ideas, and resources, in order to strengthen their own local struggles. This paper explores the role of the World Bicycle Forum and similar meetings for local efforts in Mexico.

Paper long abstract:

Urban cycling advocates in Latin America have sought to position their efforts according to the local context of each city and region they are active in. The networks they have formed across the region have nevertheless helped all groups learn from each other and share ideas, resources, and knowledge. The visibility of each specific ‘movement’ within different cities responds to their own specific power balances, media landscapes, and political cultures, at local, regional, and national levels. Behind the scenes, however, complex networks linking activist groups, advocacy organizations, NGOs, international foundations, aid agencies, and governments, consultancy firms, and professional service providers, are at work. Some activists have taken part to different degrees in several struggles which are quite distant from each other, sometimes across national borders. The resulting encounters have provided a circulation of tangible and intangible goods that help vernacular advocacy efforts. In particular, this paper analyses the role of the World Bicycle Forum for cycling promotion in Guadalajara and Mexico City. The structural processes that plague numerous cities across the globe frame similar measures that in turn are promoted by international institutions like the World Bank or private foundations. Government backed infrastructure and regulatory projects do not work if they lack a harmonization with societal needs and aspirations. Those activists who visit each other and learn from different contexts appear to more easily identify the particular pulse of a city. Foreign experiences serve therefore as useful mirrors for local struggles.

Panel P135
Itinerant activism: movement, collaboration and discordance
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -