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Accepted Paper:

Of scales and cycles: a case of urban ecological governance in the promotion of bicycling in Mexico City  


Raul Acosta Garcia (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen)

Paper short abstract:

The promotion of bicycling in Mexico City has in recent years moved up in public policy agendas. This paper examines the way in which decisions on changes in infrastructures and norms appear to be guided by technomoral doctrines, shaped sometimes with and others at odds with activists and advocates

Paper long abstract:

The toll of decades among the world's megalopolis combines a wide array of strains for Mexico City's urban dwellers. Pollution, congested avenues, high levels of noise, insecurity, and other aspects affect the everyday life of its inhabitants. In this context, activists have for a couple of decades promoted bicycling as a form of transport by insisting on potential benefits to people, environment, and sociality. With the help from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), development aid agencies, and financial institutions, local activists have tapped into an increasing awareness of environmental problems. In doing so, they have framed the promotion of bicycling as a case of urban ecological governance, which entails an understanding of how people, non-human life-forms, objects, and the built environment interact in the city. With this in mind, the bicycle has been promoted as an object with which urban dwellers can improve the city's environment, their own health, personal and local economies, social interactions among strangers, as well as the social atmosphere. Activists seek to convince individuals to take up cycling and government officials to consider it a matter for city-wide thinking, linking private and urban scales. This process has led to a series of technomoral doctrines, which emerge out of agreements or confrontations between activists, advocates, and government officials. These doctrines in turn are used to justify or inform decisions by the local city government for changes in infrastructures and norms. This paper offers an analysis of the performative and discursive negotiations at the heart of these developments.

Panel P103
The rise of technomoral governance: anthropological insights into value-laden scales of evidence