Motorcycles. What do they mean to those that ride them?
A very warm welcome to anthromoto, a research project of British motorcycle culture which attempts to record the various 'existences' of rider and machine. Please take a look through the site and learn more about my project which combines academic research with photography to document the human-motorcycle relationship.
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Motorbikes first appeared in my life in the late 1980’s where as a kid keeping vertical on a bike was a bit of a challenge, and I bear the scars to prove that motorcycles don't keep themselves upright!
Fast-forward three decades and I now ride a Suzuki GSX-R 750 (and I’ve also learnt that motorcycles are far too expensive to drop). Motorbikes are my passion and I combine my love for this incredible machine with a desire to contribute to our motorcycle cultural knowledge and heritage.
I live in North Yorkshire, England, and my other academic interests are in visual anthropology/sociology, material culture and photography. I've previously provided an academic perspective on motorcycle culture for both Motorcycle Rider magazine and the Dutch motorcycle publication Grip and I write occasional articles for the popular motorcycle press. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute in London.
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One of the major influences on the development of anthromoto as a project was a book that I came across in 2012 whilst immersed in postgraduate anthropological fieldwork - Bernt Spiegel’s (1999) comprehensive and almost mystical text The Upper Half of the Motorcycle. In this book, the author encourages us to take a more 360 degree, metaphysical approach to the motorcycle by considering the way that this machine impacts our experiences as human beings, as well as how we continue to exploit it's design and use. In contrast to much of the historical academic research which has largely portrayed the motorcycle as instrumental to crime and deviancy, anthromoto seeks to celebrate the unique experience of connection and mobility which motorcycling brings to people's lives, work and leisure.
Up until the turn of this century, researchers in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies had only carried out a relatively small number of studies looking at motorcycle culture. However since that time the consideration of motorcycling as a valid subject of research has increased and dedicated journals such as the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies have been formed and flourished. Motorbikes are technical machines through which human beings negotiate time, speed, place and metaphor and offer many different possible areas of investigation. My own particular passions involve researching and documenting British motorcycle racing, understanding how the boundary between object (machine) and subject (rider) becomes blurred when humans and motorbikes connect and the photography of everyday life with motorcycles.
If you would like to contribute to the research or know more about it, please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org