Technology and the Making of Europe


Experiencing 'Europe' on the Road: Transnational Bus Travel and the Making of 'Europe' (EuroBus)

Project leader: Gijs Mom

The EuroBus project aims at an analysis of the co-evolution of transnational bus technology and travel in an effort to reconstruct the creation of a 'Europe from below' as experienced and shaped through cross-border travel in Europe. It contributes to the overall Inventing Europe project by emphasizing the role of (vehicle) technology in the process of 'linking and delinking, integration and fragmentation', while at the same time contrasting this perspective with the point of view of the 'official Europe.'

International bus travel for shopping and holiday making from the 1930s (and the flow of migrants in the opposite direction since the 1950s) has never been seriously investigated. And yet, buses provided a much more accessible extension of 'democratized holiday making' than what the railways had begun for the large European countries. In the smaller countries these vehicles enabled the experience of trans-border travel by those who didn't own a car, for the very first time. This project investigates how images of Europe, and European identity in general, as seen through this distinctive lens, evolved during the remainder of the twentieth century alongside parallel changes in travel technology.

The project will be executed by researchers from seven European countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey; the latter included in the German subproject) who pool their expertise to study this subject through four themes. Thus, a complex picture emerges of annual waves of holiday makers, from North to South and from West to East (and migrants in the opposite direction), associated with rural depopulation as well as holes in the Iron Curtain, special collective 'bus communities' and encounters with 'The Other.' The project's deliverables are a database, 18 discussion papers, numerous individual journal articles and one synthesizing book, and perhaps an exhibition.

The project was finished in 2009.