Railway Conjunctures: Postcolonial and Postsocialist Trajectories of Urban Renewal

Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde

The global desire for modernity has frequently been expressed through the construction of mass transport systems. As critical contributions to the interdisciplinary fields of urban and transport studies have shown, the unequal provision of infrastructure still reproduces particular geopolitical orders and serves to legitimize narratives of the West’s Others as ‘backwards’ and in need of catching up. Historical trajectories of transport development, therefore, present a case in time for analyzing contested imaginaries and materialities of urban renewal. Against this backdrop, we propose to bring postsocialist and postcolonial perceptions of ‘progress’ into dialogue by focusing on the asynchronous trajectory of a particular mode of transport technology between South America and Eastern Europe: the tramway. To this end, firstly, we trace how electrified trams were ambivalently perceived as forerunners of ‘enlightened futures’ when first introduced to Brazilian and Ukrainian cities at the turn of the twentieth century. In a second step, we turn our attention to how their century-long history reverberates in contemporary urban imaginaries and public transport reforms in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Keywords: infrastructure, transport, urban railways, tramways, light rail technology, Brazil, Ukraine, climate urbanism, sustainability, urban renewal, cultural studies, human geography, urban studies

written by Laura Kemmer, Wladimir Sgibnev, Tonio Weicker, Maxwell Woods

1. Introduction

International organizations and multinational companies alike have been promoting novel railway solutions to mitigate the negative impact of city growth on worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.1 These ‘modern tramway’ or ‘light rail’ technologies arguably exert a renewed “mythical allure” 2 on urban stakeholders: They promise, within a relatively short time span, to reduce traffic and pollution, change commuters’ habits and transform entire city districts into congestion-free and clean air zones.3 Critical studies in urban and transportation research, however, point to how “low-carbon infrastructural fixes” 4 for climate mitigation have served to reproduce inequalities embedded in capitalist and neocolonial reorganizations of urban space. This diagnosis results in growing calls for decolonizing and disrupting both the knowledge produced on allegedly ‘new’ transport technologies and to identify anmake visible how the legacy of colonial projects features in present-day ‘sustainable’ urban renewal schemes.5

With this in mind, we propose to make a dual intervention: firstly, we want to complement postmillennial critiques of the blackboxing of technological promises in the context of sustainability discourses and climate urbanism by pointing to the historical dimension of such transport projects’ alleged ‘mythical allure.’ Here, we contribute a critique of a predominantly positive imaginary of tramways in urban and transportation research by exploring how it has ‘traveled’ alongside the large-scale violent urban reforms of the turn of the twentieth century from Europe to cities of the ‘nonwestern’ world. Secondly, we want to approach the (still understudied) relationship between public transport innovation and urban renewal from the particular case of railway technology in postsocialist and postcolonial contexts. We believe that these cases will not only provide new empirical insights into both historical and present-day contestations of a technological ‘fix’ for socio-environmental problems of contemporary urban societies, but will contribute to decolonizing knowledge about transport by offering a critique that emerges from beyond the traditional centers of railway expertise and production.

Accordingly, we examine two cases of tramway implementation at the turn of the twentieth century and their postmillennial revival in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil, and Kharkiv, formerly the Russian Empire and contemporarily Ukraine. In both instances, we argue, public transport was initially envisioned as a means to coercively install a particular modernist vision of the city – a project that was then resisted by popular classes’ alternative visions of mobility and urban space. In the new millennium, however, we witness the revival of a hegemonic vision of urban railways understood in terms of sustainability, which then encounter bottom-up resistance. These contexts demonstrate that public transport is always a site of struggle over who gets to determine the ordering of urban space and in the name of which normative understanding of modernity.

In this way, we translate the conceptual proposition of conjuncture – the crossing and union of two fields or circumstances – into a methodological grounding for our argument. A lot of discussion on conjunctures between Latin America and Eastern Europe is centered around the generation, hegemony, circulation and (potential) installation of socialist thinking in these spaces. Recent decolonial border-crossing research, however, has implicitly attempted to displace the hegemonic frame of Soviet history and its global travels, seeking alternative conjunctures between subaltern communities living within the geopolitical spaces dominated by the historical periodization of pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet eras.6 We follow this decolonial provocation, seeking new conjunctures between Latin American and Eastern European subaltern communities and urban spaces outside the top-down frame of Soviet modernity, hence, the nonobvious decision to leave Soviet history largely undiscussed in this essay. Instead, our contribution emphasizes individual quotes and literary expressions aiming for a bricolage of subaltern narratives beyond one-sided modernity paradigms. We trace the, at times, brutal material presence of urban transport in our empirical case studies, and its reflection in literary sources, historical documents and on snippets cut off from contemporary media debates. With this, we aim at grasping the simultaneity of diverse transport modernities, constantly reclaimed and contested by a variety of people: from transport workers, engineers and politicians to daily commuters.

As such, we argue that transport systems are inscribed in multiple layers and contentious perceptions of modernity. This approach benefits greatly from a coloniality-sensitive research frame.7 Our emphasis on contested visions of modernity and power inequalities in knowledge production proves crucial for understanding urban mobilities, given how particular forms of mobility are often condemned (such as informal minibuses) and neglected for being markers of a bygone (Soviet/premodern) modernity, or a presumed incapacity to adapt to Western modernity formats.8 We want to discuss how colonial power asymmetries have played out in the installation of public transport systems in Brazil and the Russian Empire, and how knowledge about these transport systems can be decolonized and disrupted from our case studies. This article is, therefore, a call toward decolonial transport conjunctures that displace and demystify understandings of public transport ordered around a hegemonic frame of modernity.9

2. The construction of the ‘foreign’ tram: urban transport infrastructure as a contested technology

This section points out how the tram has functioned as vehicle for transporting (colonial) urban imaginaries – and associated urban renewal tactics – from European cities to Brazil and Ukraine already at the turn of the twentieth century. We, thus, add an explicit ‘material’ perspective to decolonial theory, and particularly literature, on the (re-)import of colonial tactics into urban planning, focusing on not only the circulation of ideas but also actual things.

2.1 Conflicting imaginaries along tramway modernities in Brazil (1850–1950)

Patrícia Galvão narratively paints a tramway scene in the opening of her 1933 avant-garde novel, Industrial Park, depicting the collective life of Braz, a working-class neighborhood of São Paulo:

‘São Paulo is the greatest industrial center of South America’: The textile workers read on the imperialist crown of the ‘shrimp’ (tram) that rolls by. The Italian girl throws an early morning ‘banana’ (gives the finger) at the trolley. She defends the country. ‘Don’t believe it! Braz is the greatest!’10 This conflict between the imperial bourgeois urban municipal logic of São Paulo versus the working-class localized neighborhood logic of Braz expressed in the struggle over the tram, illustrated in Galvão’s novel, is not unexpected. Until World War I, the city of São Paulo was a collection of discrete neighborhoods, such as Braz, and not a unified municipality.11 In response to this fragmentation, the Paulista middle class pushed to generate a unified urban space during the 1920s and 30s and employed the tram as an infrastructural link that could aid this effort.12 The opening section of Industrial Park, reflecting this urban history, demonstrates how the tram was an urban artifact both used by the emerging bourgeoisie to create a singular coherent unified space, and resisted by working-class neighborhoods insofar as it was perceived as stripping their right to local self-determination.

Indeed, the tram has been a site of conflict since its introduction in Brazil over who has the power to organize city space, and what forms of mobility will be introduced to ‘transport’ urban imaginaries of progress and modernity. The ‘technological fix,’ that is, the belief that scientific innovations and new machines would resolve the problems of Brazil’s highly unequal urban societies, regularly clashed with poor and working-class residents’ contestation of imported technologies and associated imaginaries. The historic foundations on which such conflicts exploded were set by the ruling elite’s proclamation of modernization “at all cost,” giving way to a complete opening of the national economy to foreign capital from the republican era onwards.13 This liberalization paradigm in the then-Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro was duly followed in the regency of Mayor Francisco Pereira Passos (1902–1906), a railway engineer who had studied with Paris’s contested “urban reformer” Baron Haussmann.14 During Passos’ mandate, the city’s railway network was significantly expanded and between 1902 and 1905 – the peak of his urban reforms – 40 international companies were authorized to explore new railway lines. Alongside the transformation of Rio’s inner-city streets into Paris-style boulevards – where Haussmann had reimported a colonial logic of street enlargement and counter-insurgency into the urban grid from the French colonies in Algeria 15 – the railway companies also retained a special allowance to expropriate and resettle the mainly poor and working-class inhabitants from the city center to urban peripheries.16 Notably, these companies also adapted the terminology of the ‘marvelous’ to their publicity for newly-built lines, calling for the new city bourgeoisie of “graceful ladies” and “elegant young men” to enjoy the “encanto (charm, beauty, allure)” of the city panorama flying by.17 As cultural scientist Beatriz Jaguaribe has noted, tramway companies’ advertising campaigns produced and reproduced pictures, narratives and symbols of a ‘marvelous’ Rio as an ambivalent mixture of both “exotic delight” and “hedonist enjoyment” 18, thus, reproducing a signification it had achieved through the colonial conquest of South America, and which was strongly associated with the mythical treasures that Europeans hoped to bring back to their home countries.19

Ultimately, instead of bringing the ‘technological fix’ that urban elites had promised, the introduction of a new technology – namely, the electrification of the first tramways – in the context of large and violent ‘urban renewal’ schemes pointed out the illusions of Eurocentric notions of progress and modernity. The first decades of electrified tramway service in early twentieth-century Rio were accompanied by numerous protest actions in reaction to fare rises or accidents, commonly referred to as quebra-quebra (break-break).20 When a mandatory vaccination law against smallpox passed congress in 1904, at the height of Passos’ violent urban reforms, many of the residents who had already lost their houses to the urban reforms felt additionally threatened by the new law, which authorized sanitary workers to invade their homes and to apply the law by force. A few days after the law passed through congress, mainly poor inhabitants of the central and harbor areas started attacking catenary masts, gas combustors and other parts of the tramway infrastructure, tearing up tracks and knocking over the tramways 21, consequently, transforming the fictional contestation represented in Industrial Park into a daily reality of power struggles in and around tramways of early twentieth-century Brazil.

2.2 Kharkiv tramway policies at the turn of the twentieth century as a fight for self-determination

Tramway technology arrived in the southern peripheries of the Tsarist Empire at about the same time as in Brazil, at the turn of the twentieth century. It came along with continuous disputes of local decision-makers over questions of progress and self-determination. In the case of Kharkiv (located in what is today Eastern Ukraine), intellectual elites and transport planners promoted horse tramways as the only viable answer to rapid urbanization. Comparing the stunning urban development of Kharkiv with Western Europe, Gulak-Artemovsky, a local transport engineer and son of the rector of Kharkiv University, actively promoted tramways among the public: “Kharkiv stands on such level of prosperity and development that it should not lag behind other capitals. I am familiar with the construction of horse-trams, as I have studied their development in Vienna, Geneva, Stockholm and Copenhagen (…). It would be an honor to me to serve my native city by building its first horse-drawn railways.”22

Following the subsequent decade-long political discussion, the municipality finally opted for two financiers, Bonné and Otlet, in 1882.23 In the following, the Belgian holding company “Union des Tramways,” obtained exclusive rights to both the construction and service provision of urban horse-trams for a period of 42 years. Kharkiv was not alone with its decision to entrust foreign companies with the construction and operation of tramway lines. Belgian holding companies developed tramway networks under similarly advantageous conditions all over the Tsarist Empire in the 1880s.24 Russian engineers developed their own projects and took part in local tenders, but did not succeed with the selection committees.25

In 1905, Kharkiv’s city duma started to build its own electric tramway lines, against the will of the Belgian company. Arguing that the concessionary had not invested in the enlargement of infrastructure despite pressing demands, the government used a loophole to oppose the company’s 42 yearlong monopoly. The operator disagreed to any municipal construction project, leaving electric lines to operate in suburban areas without any connection to its two private horse tram lines in the center. In other cases, competition between operators led to acts of resistance and sabotage on construction sites. In October 1905, 300 transport workers 26 staged large-scale protests against the Belgian operator, bringing the urban economy to a weeklong standstill.27 As a reaction, the city hall considered buying out the Belgian stock company, but the estimated 4,400,000 robles exceeded the municipal budget. Horse trams were shut down in 1919 at the end of the Civil War, thus, ending the unpopular venture of foreign trams as forerunners of a no longer wanted ‘European’ modernity.

What the Brazilian-Ukrainian railway conjuncture reveals is how tramways have functioned as vehicles of modernity, transporting European ideas of progress, as entailed in bourgeois visions of working-class spaces to-be-industrialized, or exoticizing imaginaries of the postcolonial city. Our examples also show, however, that the mythical allure of this particular kind of transport technology and the attempts to couple it with particular visions of the city have not remained uncontested. Alternative visions of urban space and mobility have existed and been acted out through everyday acts of resistance.

3. The ‘railway renaissance’ and its local counter-histories

3.1. Rio’s light rail: A troubled revival of urban imaginaries

In a climate of financial euphoria and “entrepreneurial governance” 28 that captured Rio de Janeiro as part of the preparations for the Summer Olympics in June 2016, the city’s mayor inaugurated a new light rail system. He presented it as both “an effort to rescue the city center, a return to the antique Rio, to the era of tramways” and as “a vehicle type that represents the kind of sustainable future we want for our city.”29 Indeed, the Rio Light Rail has been celebrated in various local media outlets as a comeback of the bonde, the Brazilian word for the historical tramway model that had been almost completely abandoned 30 in Rio by the end of the 1960s.31 And again, this particular type of technology seems closely tied to contested logics of speculation and urban renewal schemes that traveled from Europe to South America.

The ‘modern’ tramways of Rio were designed by the French company Alstom and are operated by the city’s public-private consortium ‘Marvelous Port,’ which is also responsible for a homonymous massive urban intervention in the central and harbor districts. Similar to urban redevelopment schemes in cities from Buenos Aires, through Boston and Baltimore to Barcelona, the ‘Marvelous Port’ project follows a global cookbook of regeneration strategies, where the ‘local colors’ of Rio’s central and harbor areas are selectively staged and mixed with a presence of symbols of the latest technology and infrastructure.32 Those areas of town where once the first tramways had been introduced as harbingers of embellishment and socioeconomic progress ‘à la Paris’ are again at the center of a major intervention that seeks to adapt Rio’s image to present-day standards of the modern, ‘sustainable’ city. Where the city government of the early twentieth century had authorized early tramway companies to expropriate the poor and working-class residents of the central districts, today’s consortium contributes to the eviction of favelados (slum-dwellers) from that area 33 by treating land development rights “as just another financial asset.”34

Ultimately, the Rio Light Rail project presents further evidence of how geopolitical inequalities and dependencies have been reinforced and reproduced through new forms of urban investments into ‘low-carbon’ technological fixes.35 However, the kind of ‘sustainable future’ that Rio’s mayor envisioned for the Marvelous Port has also been troubled by the dark histories of this particular urban area and this specific type of technology that are deeply entwined with colonial differences of race and class and Eurocentric imaginaries of urban progress and modernity.

3.2 Modernization and its reverse effect: the return of the minibus in Kharkiv

Large-scale railway innovation attempts in Kharkiv 36, such as metro extensions and the purchase of new vehicles or the introduction of an e-ticketing system, have been met with major suspicion by a significant part of the population.37 More than 1,000 people gathered in the city center in 201938, protesting against an announced fare increase.39 While the local government called this an anti-modernist protest, activists exposed cases of money laundering, fraudulent tenders and nepotism in relation to public transport modernization projects, some of them leading to criminal charges and penalties.40 Indeed, a broad alliance of protesters, including opposition parties with nostalgic communist attitudes, nationalist right-wing movements and various liberal-progressive citizen initiatives, managed successfully to block fare hikes in a regional court decision.41 However, the government proceeded and implemented a two-step increase of transport fares, thus, doubling fares within a year.42 As a result, passenger numbers dropped significantly (25 % fewer tramway passengers; 12 % fewer on buses), leading to a discussion among transport politicians to close down tram lines due to inefficiency.43

In parallel with the street protests, European development banks announced their support for modernizing public transport infrastructures. Shortly after, the Chinese manufacturer CRRC Tangshan won a contract for overhauling metro vehicles, at the expense of the Ukrainian PJSC “Kryukovsky.” Heavily contested by local initiatives, the foreign infrastructure contracts reportedly endanger the jobs of approximately 6,000 factory workers in Kremenchuk and the existence of at least five subcontracting companies in Kharkiv.44

Such a concentration of capital flows on one large infrastructure project increases center/periphery divides through a gradual process of thinning out municipal transport offers in suburban regions.45 Moreover, it counteracts the attempts of local tram and bus depots to renovate their fleets. As a direct consequence of these policies, several tram and bus lines were closed in 2018/2019. As a result, ironically, the diesel-fueled minibus fleets that have been contested by local transport politicians as ruthless competitors of the municipal transport service have come to mitigate municipal network cuts.46 Kharkiv citizens awaiting the implementation of ‘modern’ Chinese technology solutions for an extended metro network in their city are left with rather unsustainable services reliant on informal and precarious working conditions that had long been presented as a system ‘to be overcome’ by public authorities.

Demystifying one-sided imaginations of technological fixes or frictionless urban renewal through simple transport infrastructure replacement/‘modernization’ is, thus, more than an intellectual exercise but should include both marginalized voices and material objects in their analysis. In this sense, the protests of Kharkiv citizens and transport workers alike may illustrate how top-down modernization interventions rather trouble Eurocentric notions related to the “imbrication of the formal and the informal” 47 and, thus, invite us to further expand our understanding of infrastructure promises 48 and their multilinear and ambivalent aftermaths.

4. Conclusion

While the first tramway systems of the late twentieth century have already been introduced as part of violent spatial restructuring alongside center-periphery logics, the colonial legacy of this relationship gains a new dimension in the context of a proclaimed international ‘railway renaissance.’ This is spearheaded by a new type of urban railway technology, once again exported by European and North American companies, which promises to catapult cities into ‘sustainable’ modernity. Such a ‘mystification’ of the modern tramway has reached the point where the installation of new low-carbon infrastructures and urban revitalization now seem to be inevitably connected.49 This imaginary of urban transport systems is deeply entangled with “expectations of the modern, circulatory city,” where a huge flow of passengers and vehicles is supposed to be orchestrated in an orderly manner and offer a transport option which “inculcates a culture of discipline, order, routine and cleanliness.”50

Our cases illustrate a complex tapestry of superficial success stories of urban renewal and modernization as well as localized contestations of those transport systems.51 Modernization dispositives – today embodied in hegemonic infrastructural visions – arrive in local contexts under certain preconditions, determining perceptions and political narratives.52 Therefore, a consequent decolonial deconstruction of the purpose and impact of prominent modernity articulations remains not only valuable but necessary for a substantial critique of urban development governance. Such a decolonial conjuncture requires that researchers look for potential material connections among subaltern public transport systems and thinking across the world – the quebra-quebra protests in turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro, the Italian girl cursing the tram in 1920s São Paulo, the Kharkiv transport workers challenging the foreign public transport operator in 1905, and so on – that displace dominant visions of public transport still organized around a logic of acquiring modernity. In this way, decolonial conjuncture thinking allows us to move beyond the binary logic of neocolonial globalized modernity versus limited localized contestations toward a planetary53constellation of subaltern transport thinking that has been silenced under the spatially extensive dominant paradigms of modern public transport. This article’s dialogue between South America and Eastern Europe is a first step towards such a decolonial conjunctural rethinking of public transport.


Laura Kemmer is a postdoctoral researcher at the Geography Department at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany. She is interested in urban and infrastructural transitions across the Global North and South, and has studied the role of tramway technology in both historical renewal projects and present-day ‘climate urbanism.’ Recent publications include Standing by the Promise. Acts of Anticipation in Rio and Jakarta (with A. Simone), in: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (online first); Free Riding Rio: Protest, Public Transport and the Politics of a Footboard, in: City and Society 32 (2020) 1, pp. 157-181; Promissory Things: How Affective Bonds Stretch along a Tramline, in: Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 20 (2020) 1, pp. 58-76.

Wladimir Sgibnev is a senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Regional Geography, where he is coordinating the research group on Mobilities and Migration and leading the Leibniz Junior Research Group “Contentious Mobilities through a Decolonial Lens.” Recent research projects addressed politicized readings of mobilities, and a reconceptualization of public transport as public space, along with a series of publications focusing on post-Soviet informal mobilities and their role within global debates on mobility transitions (co-authored with Lela Rekhviashvili). These include a theorization of informality and social embeddedness for the study of informal transport (Antipode), a discussion of the role of labor relations in the study of informal transport (Transport Geography), and a comparative outline between informal transport and new digital ride-hailing services (Journal of Transport History).

Tonio Weicker is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Regional Geography, Leipzig, Germany. His research focuses on social inequalities caused by urban transport modernization policies in Central and Eastern European countries. Recent publications include Marshrutka (In-)Formality in Southern Russian Cities and Its Role in Contentious Transport Policies, Geoforum 2020; Cholpon Turdalieva and Tonio Weicker, Encountering the Multiple Semiotics of Marshrutka Surfaces – What Can Marshrutka Decorations and Advertisements Tell Us about Its Everyday Actors?, in: Mobilities 14 (2019) 6, pp. 809-824; Carried by Migrants – Frictions of Migration and Mobility Patterns in the Conflicting Assemblage of the Russian Private Transport Sector, In: Central Asian Affairs 6 (2019) 4, pp. 304-326.

Maxwell Woods is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Viña del Mar, Chile. His work is particularly focused on the interrelations between decolonization, urban studies and modern literature. His recent book, Politics of the Dunes: Architecture, Poetry, and Coloniality at the Open City (Berghahn Books, 2021), explores the relationship between modern Latin American architecture and poetry, the history of settler colonialism in Latin America, and the decolonial and anti-authoritarian vision of the utopian architectural community of the Open City of Ritoque. His work has additionally appeared in Social and Cultural Geography, Cultural Studies, Cultural Dynamics, Cultural Politics and Literary Geographies.

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2 Hans de Bruijn / Wijnand Veeneman, Decision-making for Light Rail, In: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 43 (2009) 4, pp. 349-359.
3 Fiona Ferbrache / Richard D Knowles, Generating Opportunities for City Sustainability through Investments in Light Rail Systems: Introduction to the Special Section on Light Rail and Urban Sustainability, In: Journal of Transport Geography 54 (2016), pp. 369-372.
4 Kristian Olesen, Infrastructure Imaginaries: The Politics of Light Rail Projects in the Age of Neoliberalism, in: Urban Studies 57 (2020) 9, pp. 1811-1826. Enora Robin / Vanesa Castán Broto, Towards a Postcolonial Perspective on Climate Urbanism, in: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 45 (2021) 5, pp. 869-878.
5 Vanesa Castán Broto / Enora Robin / Aidan While, Climate Urbanism. Towards a Critical Research Agenda. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020; Tim Schwanen, Towards Decolonised Knowledge about Transport, in: Palgrave Communications 4 (2018) 1, pp. 1-6.
6 Madina Tlostanova / Walter Mignolo, Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2012, p. 7; Madina Tlostanova, Postsocialist≠ Postcolonial? On Post-Soviet Imaginary and Global Coloniality, in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing 48 (2012) 2, pp. 130-142.
7 Schwanen, Towards Decolonised Knowledge.
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10 Patricia Galvão / Elizabeth Jackson, Industrial Park (Vol. 3). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1993, p.7.
11 Teresa PR. Caldeira, City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2000, p. 221.
12 Cristina Peixoto-Mehrtens, Urban Space and National Identity in Early Twentieth Century São Paulo, Brazil: Crafting Modernity. Berlin / Heidelberg: Springer, 2010, pp. 16-17, 37.
13 Nicolau Sevcenko, Introdução: O Prelúdio Républicano, Astúcias Da Ordem e Ilusões Do Progresso, in: Fernando A. Novais (ed.), História Da Vida Privada No Brasil. República: Da Belle Époque á Era Do Rádio. Editora Sc, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2006, pp. 7-49.
14 Jaime Larry Benchimol, Pereira Passos: Um Haussmann Tropical: A Renovação Urbana Da Cidade Do Rio de Janeiro No Infcio Do Século XX. Rio de Janeiro: Secretaria Municipal de Cultura, Turismo e Esportes, Departamento Geral de Documentação e Informação Cultural, Divisão de Editoração, 1953, p. 201.
15 Stefan Kipfer, Fanon and Space: Colonization, Urbanization, and Liberation from the Colonial to the Global City, in: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25 (2007) 4, pp. 701-726.
16 Benchimol, Pereira Passos.
17 Cited in Elisabeth von der Weid, O Bonde Como Elemento de Expansão Urbana No Rio de Janeiro, in: Siglo XIX (1994) 16, p. 16, footnote 34.
18 Beatriz Jaguaribe, Imaginando a ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’: Modernidade, Espetáculo e Espaços Urbanos, in: FAMECOS: Mídia, Cultura e Tecnologia 18 (2011) 2, pp. 327-347.
19 Guillermo Giucci, Viajantes Do Maravilhoso. O Novo Mundo. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1992.
20 Paulo Cruz Terra, Conflitos Cotidianos e Motins: Os Usuários de Bondes No Rio de Janeiro No Final Do Século XIX e Início Do XX, in: História Social 22 / 23 (2012), pp. 236-253.
21 Cruz Terra, Conflitos Cotidianos, p. 251.
22 BI Вiтченко & Вікторія Юріївна Iващенко: Харкiвський електротранспорт: конка, трамвай, тролейбус (До 100-риччя Харкiвського трамваю). - Х., 2006 - 98 с.
23 Д. И. Багалей & Д. П. Миллер: История города Харькова за 250 летего существования (1655 – 1905): Истор. монография в 2 т.: Т. 2.– Репринт. изд.– Х., 1993.– 982 с.
24 As a side note, it can be stated that southern capitals at the periphery of the Tsarist Empire clearly served as a laboratory for the reconstruction of city infrastructure, such as, inter alia, tramway operations.
25 Tobit Vandamme, Beyond Belgium: The Business Empire of Edouard Empain in the First Global Economy (1880–1914). Doctoral dissertation, Ghent University, 2019.
26 Andrej Butkovskij, Tramvaj. Konki. Charkovskij Transport. 2008, p. 4, online version is available (in Russian) at http://gortransport.kharkov.ua/tram/konka/.
27 BI Вiтченко & Вікторія Юріївна Iващенко: Харкiвський електротранспорт: конка, трамвай, тролейбус (До 100-риччя Харкiвського трамваю). - Х., 2006 - 98 с.
28 Luiz Ribeiro / Cesar de Queiroz / Orlando Alves dos Santos Junior, Neoliberalization and Mega-Events: The Transition of Rio de Janeiro’s Hybrid Urban Order, in: Journal of Urban Affairs 39 (2017) 7, pp. 909-923, here p. 913.
29 Eduardo Paes (mayor of Rio de Janeiro between 2009 and 2016, newly elected in 2020), quoted in Agência Rio de Noticias 2016. Rio comemora inauguração do VLT Carioca (June 6, 2016), online version is available at https://anptrilhos.org.br/rio-comemora-inauguracao-do-vlt-carioca/.
30 About the only surviving tram of Rio, cf. Laura Kemmer, Free Riding Rio: Protest, Public Transport and the Politics of a Footboard, in: City and Society, 32 (2020) 1, pp. 157-181; Laura Kemmer, Promissory Things: How Affective Bonds Stretch along a Tramline, in: Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 20 (2019) 1, pp. 58-76.
31 Káthia Mello, VLT Carioca Resgata Memória de Bondes Com Sustentabilidade, O Globo Online (February 23, 2016) online version is available at http://g1.globo.com/rio-de-janeiro/aniversario-do-rio/2016/noticia/2016/02/vlt-carioca-resgata-memoria-de-bondes-com-sustentabilidade.html.
32 Jaguaribe, Imaginando a ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’.
33 Urban scholars estimate that about one-third of the population has been displaced since the early 2000s. Cf. Fernanda Sanchez / Anne-Marie Broudehoux, Mega-events and Urban Regeneration in Rio de Janeiro: Planning in a State of Emergency, in: International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 5 (2013) 2, pp. 132-153.
34 Mayra Mosciaro / Alvaro Pereira / Manuel B Aalbers, The Financialization of Urban Redevelopment: Speculation and Public Land in Porto Maravilha, Rio de Janeiro, in: Cecilia Chu / Shenjing He (eds.), The Speculative City: Emerging Forms and Norms of the Built Environment. Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2021. The power asymmetries inscribed into new mechanisms of financialization have also become evident when the Marvelous Port consortium repeatedly threatened to suspend the light rail system altogether if the city government would not pay off a deficit that they were obligated to compensate because the system had not reached the contractual target of 260,000 passengers per day. Cf. Rafael Galdo, Sem Receber Da Prefeitura, VLT Pode Parar de Circular, in: O Globo, March 21, 2019.
35 Galdo, Sem Receber Da Prefeitura; cf. also Manuel B. Aalbers / Raquel Rolnik / Marieke Krijnen, The Financialization of Housing in Capitalism’s Peripheries, in: Housing Policy Debate 30 (2020) 4, pp. 481-485; Patrick Bigger / Nate Millington, Getting Soaked? Climate Crisis, Adaptation Finance, and Racialized Austerity, in: Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 3 (2019) 3, pp. 601-623.
36 Kharkiv Today, Харьковчане стали реже ездить на трамваях и троллейбусах, (July 29, 2020) online version is available (in Russian) at https://2day.kh.ua/obnovlyat-podvizhnoy-sostav-kharkovskogo-metro-budet-kitayskaya-kompaniya.
37 Vgorode, Кризис в подземке: Убытки харьковского метро составили 210 миллионов за полгода, (2020) online version is available (in Russian) at https://kh.vgorode.ua/news/transport_y_ynfrastruktura/a1126977-krizis-v-podzemke-ubytki-kharkovskoho-metro-sostavili-210-millionov-za-polhoda.
38 Anna Rudyk, В Харькове протестуют против подорожания городского транспорта, (February 23, 2019) online version is available (in Russian) at https://ukranews.com/news/615844-v-harkove-protestuyut-protiv-podorozhaniya-gorodskogo-transporta-smi; Anastasija Nevmiric, “Марш злых харьковчан” подержали около 1000 жителей города, (February 23, 2019) online version is available (in Russian) at https://www.newsroom.kh.ua/news/marsh-zlyh-harkovchan-podderzhali-okolo-1000-zhiteley-goroda.
39 Julja Malovichko, Масштабный бунт начался в Харькове, выдвинуты жесткие требования: «Гепа! Последний срок?», (February 10, 2019) online version is available (in Russian) at https://politeka.net/news/society/909789-masshtabnyj-bunt-nachalsja-v-harkove-vydvinuty-zhestkie-trebovanija-gepa-poslednij-srok.
40 Pavlo Novik, Королівство «Підземка». NGO ‘Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center’, (2017) https://anticor-kharkiv.org/en/2017/06/yak-rozkradayut-groshi-harkivskogo-metropolitenu/. Anastasija Nevmiric, Харьковский Метрополитен отдаст 72 миллиона. ‘любимому‘ подрядчику, (January 23, 2020) online version is available (in Russian) at https://www.newsroom.kh.ua/news/harkovskiy-metropoliten-otdast-72-milliona-lyubimomu-podryadchiku. Among several other instances, Evgenij Lisichkin compared the purchase of secondhand activist trolleybuses from the Czech Republic to different Ukrainian cities estimating that the city council bought old and non-sustained buses for 2–3 times higher prices than other municipal operators in neighboring cities, thus, accusing the local government of misuse tax payers’ money: Evgenij Lisichkin, Харківська влада знов придбала “золоті” тролейбуси. NGO ‘Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center,’ (2017) https://anticor-kharkiv.org/2017/06/evgeniy-lisichkin-harkivska-vlada-znov-pridbala-zoloti-troleybusi/.
41 Aleksej Basakin, Метро по пять гривен: суд поддержал временное возвращение к старому тарифу, in: Newsroom, (February 19, 2019) online version is available (in Russian) at https://www.newsroom.kh.ua/news/metro-po-pyat-griven-sud-podderzhal-vremennoe-vozvrashchenie-k-staromu-tarifu.
42 Centre for transport strategies: Убытки Харьковского метрополитена за год выросли вдвое, (February 12, 2020) online version is available (in Russian) at https://cfts.org.ua/news/2020/02/12/ubytki_kharkovskogo_metropolitena_za_god_vyrosli_vdvoe_57316.
43 Natalja Kobzar, Харьковчане стали реже ездить на трамваях и троллейбусах, Status Quo, (November 24, 2019) online version is available (in Russian) at https://www.sq.com.ua/rus/news/novosti/24.09.2019/harkovchane_stali_rezhe_ezdit_na_tramvayah_i_trolleybusah/.
44 Vgorode, Крюковский завод жалуется в Евросоюз: вокруг китайских вагонов метро для Харькова — скандал, (2020) online version is available (in Russian) at https://kh.vgorode.ua/news/transport_y_ynfrastruktura/a1126093-krjukovskij-zavod-zhaluetsja-v-evrosojuz-vokruh-kitajskikh-vahonov-metro-dlja-kharkova-skandal.
45 A similar effect had been observed in the forefront of the European Soccer Championship in 2012 when foreign investment into the city infrastructure led to a modernization of city center while several tram lines connecting the suburban districts were lifted: Oksana Ermolenko, Центр Харькова “зачищают” от трамваев, in: Segodnja, November 22, 2010.
46 Vgorode, “Должны исчезнуть как класс”: в харькове хотят убрать маршрутки, (2017) online version is available (in Russian) at https://kh.vgorode.ua/news/transport_y_ynfrastruktura/386971-dolzhny-yscheznut-kak-klass-v-kharkove-khotiat-ubrat-marshrutky.
47 Jeremy Morris, The Informal Economy and Post-socialism: Imbricated Perspectives on Labor, the State, and Social Embeddedness, in: Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 27 (2019) 1, pp. 9-30.
48 Laura Kemmer / AbdouMaliq Simone, Standing by the Promise: Acts of Anticipation in Rio and Jakarta, in: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 39 (2021) 4, pp. 573-589.
49 Murillo de Oliveira Dias, Light Rail Vehicle in Rio de Janeiro: Alternative to Public Transportation in Brazil?, in: Australian Journal of Science and Technology 2 (2018) 4, pp. 187-193.
50 Colin McFarlane, Infrastructure, Interruption, and Inequality: Urban Life in the Global South, in: Stephen Graham (ed.), Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructure Fails. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 131-144, here p. 134; see also Nikhil Anand, Disconnecting Experience: Making World-Class Roads in Mumbai, in: Economic and Political Weekly 41 (2006) 31, pp. 3422-3429; Stephan Graham, Elite Avenues, in: City 22 (2018) 4, pp. 527-550.
51 Jennifer Houghton, Entanglement: The Negotiation of Urban Development Imperatives in Durban’s Public–Private Partnerships, in: Urban Studies 50 (2013) 13, pp. 2791-2808.
52 Astrid Wood, The Politics of Policy Circulation: Unpacking the Relationship between South African and South American Cities in the Adoption of Bus Rapid Transit, in: Antipode 47 (2015) 4, pp. 1062-1079.
53 The concept of the planetarity is theorized by Gayatari Spivak, Death of a Discipline. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

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