Automobility and Hospitality


Good Samaritan


In this paper, we approach automobility from a perspective opened by the work of Ivan Illich. We discuss how automobility transforms our way of thinking about transport, the experience of engaging in it, and some possibilities that these changes open and close. Where engaging Illich for the purpose of scrutinizing automobility has tended to start out from his earlier works, we here emphasize the period of his thinking to which a specific roadside event – told of in the parable of the Samaritan – holds the key. Thus, our focus is on automobility's closure of the opening towards the unknown stranger through the felt flesh. We argue that a remnant of this possibility remains in the practice of hitch-hiking. The practice of hitch-hiking, however, takes place through exactly those channels of communication which automobility occludes. In the conclusion, we turn our new understanding of automobility towards the future, offering a few remarks on what might then be discerned in the prospect of self-driving cars.
The International Journal of Illich Studies is an Open Source CopyLeft journal. Authors retain the copyright to all of their work.