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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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Inhabiting the Interval

Inhabiting the Interval

(p.48) Two Inhabiting the Interval
An Anthropology of the Machine

Michael Fisch

University of Chicago Press

The second chapter further delineates the technicity of Tokyo’s commuter train collective by exploring the conditions within the commuter-train car. Specifically, it looks at how in learning to inhabit the commuter train network’s margin of indeterminacy commuters cultivate a deeply ingrained sensibility toward its modulating intensities while developing various strategies for negotiating its paradoxical mediations. In so doing, the chapter aims to think with the processes, practices, tensions, and contradictions that emerge within the train car in conjunction with operation beyond capacity. Ultimately, it draws attention to the way in which operation beyond capacity is not a condition imposed on Tokyo’s commuters, but rather a collective orientation produced at an organic level in the labor of commuters to maintain the precarious metastable integrity of the collective’s margin of indeterminacy. At the same time, the chapter considers how various forms of media that have become essential features of the commute in recent years—from cell phones to screens to posters—become folded into the spatiotemporal contours of the system’s margin of indeterminacy to enable new ways of managing its tensions.

Keywords:   Collective, Media, Train

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