Vehicles: Cars, canoes, and other metaphors of moral imagination

David Lipset (Editor), Richard Handler (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

9 Scopus citations


Metaphor, as an act of human fancy, combines ideas in improbable ways to sharpen meanings of life and experience. Theoretically, this arises from an association between a sign-for example, a cattle car-and its referent, the Holocaust. These "sign-vehicles" serve as modes of semiotic transportation through conceptual space. Likewise, on-the-ground vehicles can be rich metaphors for the moral imagination. Following on this insight, Vehicles presents a collection of ethnographic essays on the metaphoric significance of vehicles in different cultures. Analyses include canoes in Papua New Guinea, pedestrians and airplanes in North America, lowriders among Mexican-Americans, and cars in contemporary China, Japan, and Eastern Europe, as well as among African-Americans in the South. Vehicles not only "carry people around," but also "carry" how they are understood in relation to the dynamics of culture, politics and history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherBerghahn Books
Number of pages214
Edition1st printing
ISBN (Electronic)9781782383765
ISBN (Print)9781782383758
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


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