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An Anthropology of the MachineTokyo's Commuter Train Network$
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Michael Fisch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226558417

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226558691.001.0001

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Finessing the Interval

Finessing the Interval

(p.29) One Finessing the Interval
An Anthropology of the Machine

Michael Fisch

University of Chicago Press

Chapter one traces the emergence of operation beyond capacity in Tokyo’s commuter train network as a schema of operation that evolves in conjunction with rapid urbanization over the course of a century in Japan. In tracing this history, the argument in the chapter delineates the specific collective nature of the commuter train network vis-a-vis its technicity, thus laying the groundwork for discussions in subsequent chapters. The central claim is that operation beyond capacity cannot be understood as the effect of an increasingly determined and precise system of technological and social organization. Rather, the chapter shows how with each phase of rapid urbanization the challenge to accommodate a larger number of commuters is met through a dynamic technique of “finessing the interval” that works to increase rather than restrict the degree of leeway in human and machine interaction.

Keywords:   Train, Modernity, Urbanization

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