Fetishising the Brussels roadscape

This explorative paper is an attempt to improve understanding of the material infrastructure and subjective affective investments into it.

Building on the concept of “fetish”, it proposes a theoretical framework to analyse the entanglement of the functional, sensitive and social symbolic dimensions of Brussels’ “modern roads” to reinforce and stabilise a social imaginary of fast mobility. Examining technical reports, political discourses, press articles and cultural productions such as movies, TV broadcasts and photographs relating to the infrastructuring process, the paper reveals – beyond the case study – the aesthetic dimension of the modernisation of roads, which relates to symbolic investments in cars. The theoretical framework involves heuristic values when regarded beyond this specific Belgian context. It opens new possibilities for broader interpretations of the mobility infrastructure.

Keywords. Automobility infrastructure, imaginary, twentieth century, fetish

Research article published in The Journal of Transport History (SAGE) Volume: 41 issue: 1, page(s): 89-115 Article first published online: January 5, 2020; Issue published: June 1, 2020

https://doi.org/10.1177/0022526619892832 https://difusion.ulb.ac.be/vufind/Record/ULB-DIPOT:oai:dipot.ulb.ac.be:2013/295692/Holdings