Geopolitics of the Dakar Rally: International Impediments Threatening Cultural, Religious, and Ecological Harmony among Motorcyclists

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Abstract:

The contemporary popularity of motorcycling has resulted in a booming manufacturing industry as well as the emergence of a unique culture revolving around very specific forms of material cultural capital. Industry research focusing exclusively on the economic impact of motorcycling gravely underestimates the social and cultural consequences that have been brought about as a result of these ecological alternatives in personal mobility. As routine riding in overcrowded urban environments becomes more and more problematic, motorcyclists find themselves yearning for the self-exile available through the wide open spaces of desert environs in order to optimize the emancipatory potential of this sensual technological Bohemian experience on two wheels. To that end, off road motorcyclists have organized rallies such as the Dakar in unique geological environments to provide riders the technology-driven mystical catharsis they are seeking. Using evidence gathered from ethnographic fieldwork, film portrayals, and contemporary public policies; the paper demonstrates that the widespread popularity of off-road motorcycling and related intercultural harmony represents a significant threat to the routinization of conflict driving the hegemonic world order.

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