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Colloquium – Kafui Attoh, Murphy Institute for Worker Education, CUNY
April 8, 2016 @ 3:35 pm - 5:00 pm
Public Transportation and the Idiocy of Urban Life
Drawing on research conducted in California’s East Bay, this talk argues for linking fights over public transportation to ongoing debates on the “right to the city.” It suggests that debates over public transit are also debates over the nature of the public itself and who has a right to be part of the public — a key theme in the “right to the city” literature. In developing this argument, I focus on the politics of public transit in California’s East Bay. The talk examines the rise of the East Bay’s Transportation Justice Movement as well as the history of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 — the union representing the region’s bus drivers. Through these case studies, the talk examines the competing visions of the public that are implicit in fights to improve public transit. The talk ends by reworking Marx and Engels’ oft cited line on the idiocy of rural life, to understand public transportation’s role in mitigating what I deem the idiocy of urban life.