Orvar Löfgren
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Moving in a sea of strangers
Handling urban overflows

How do people learn to move in a sea of strangers and adapt to new and alien circumstances? What kind of processes of overflow are encountered here? This chapter starts by discussing the refugee crisis in 2015, when large numbers of migrants traveled in search of help and asylum through Europe. This contemporary situation is compared with the emergence of mass travel, new migrations, and urban growth in the late nineteenth century. As new travel technologies and patterns of movement took shape in the industrializing world there was a need to learn how to deal with an overflow or overload of people – faces, movements, gestures, and impressions from strangers – and at a quickening pace. Questions of anonymity, intimacy, and distance came to the fore – a new psychology of handling crowds, but also of new systems for managing and controlling movement and identification. In the comparison of these two eras – a century apart – the focus is on learning new modes of movement and social navigation and unlearning old ones.

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Overwhelmed by overflows?

How people and organizations create and manage excess


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