Pedaling power: bicycles, subjectivities and landscapes in a settler colonial society
Mobilities across contested terrains are key to the formation of settler societies. This paper explores how safety bicycles were drawn into the Australian settler project at the turn of the twentieth century, just as the six independent colonies were federating into the Commonwealth of Australia. As recently imported objects, bicycles afforded settler men unprecedented mobility across remote landscapes that had not been smoothed by the infrastructures of the ‘old world’. In those years of national formation, bicycles were received as objects that could fill ‘empty’ land with people, things, activities and stories, at the same time as they generated masculine, settler subjectivities. A practice approach to settler mobilities helps to tease out the entanglements between bicycle ‘overlanding’ and two fundamental imperatives of settlerism: transforming indigenous places into settler places and creating ‘nativised’ settler subjectivities.
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