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The bicycle is a green icon celebrated for its efficiency and the spare beauty of its design. Its freewheeling sociability and role as an instrument of women's emancipation have made it a kind of "liberation technology". Urban planners, traffic engineers and environmentalists see it as part of the solution to congested cities and the global ecological crisis. Iain Boal examines this paragon of sustainable mobility and the mythos of the bicycle as intrinsically a friend of the earth. A much more complex story emerges when the bicycle is seen in a planetary perspective and in a wider historical and ecological setting. The Green Machine tells this history without illusions or moralism, in the face of the gathering climate emergency.
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Iain Boal is an Irish social historian of technics and the commons, based as an independent scholar in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is on of the founders of the Retort collective, an association of radical writers, teachers, artists, and activists, which has existed in the Bay Area for the past two decades, with whom he co-authored Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War, along with T.J. Clark, Joseph Matthews and Michael Watts, and published by Verso. He is co-author of Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information and author of the forthcoming book The Long Theft: Episodes in the History of Enclosure. He is also the editor of Archives of Dissent, to be published by PM Press.
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