Social dimensions of public transport in an island: identity, mobility and politics in the "hiace" station of Sucupira (Santiago, Cape Verde)
Daniel Malet Calvo
(ISCTE-IUL. University Institute of Lisbon)
Paper short abstract:
“Hiaces” are collective vans covering the main itineraries in the island of Santiago (Cape Verde). In this presentation I will discuss the centrality of this vehicle on reflecting the social and cultural characteristics of the island by an ethnographic overview on its central station, Sucupira.
Paper long abstract:
Public transportation "Hiace" vans, which link up the villages of Santiago island (Cape Verde) among them, are the most peculiar elements of the island's mobility. Its central station is settled in Sucupira Market, in the capital city of Praia, where the planning and regulation of public transports aim to move away "Hiace" from downtown to the suburbs. The function of the station within the Sucupira market will be examined considering the prevailing patterns of urban renewal model. Also, the social morphologies and appropriations flourishing in the Sucupira market spaces annexed to the station, will be evaluated. However, by traveling frequently in "Hiace" across the island it is noticeable the value of the vehicle as a way to measure all things: a "total social fact". Our ethnographic journey had the goal of finding out the relationship between traffic accidents and the "Hiace's system": the local concepts of risk in front of driving real practices; the organization of the ownership structure and the drivers' working conditions, normative rules and transgressions; the tactics for attracting clients within a tremendously competitive environment among drivers; the representations related to the cult of the vehicle and, finally, the specular function of the "Hiace" on reflecting socioeconomic conditions and sociocultural processes of the different places marked on their itineraries. This investigation was carried out in the framework of the project "Comparative study on social appropriations and land-use control in the urban centres of three African cities" (Ref. CSO2009-12470), founded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
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