Configurations of “remoteness” (CoRe) - Entanglements of Humans and Transportation Infrastructure in the Baykal-Amur Mainline (BAM) Region

The Arctic and Subarctic have gained a surprising amount of attention in recent years. What used to be the ‘remote’ backwaters of global economic and political currents has morphed into a new frontier of geopolitics, resource extraction, and developmental designs. New transportation infrastructure often plays a critical role in these transformations. But its effects – accessibility, the shrinking of social and physical distance, the increased speed of connection – are not uncontested. On the one hand, those for whom ‘remoteness’ has been an asset, are often among the opponents of such developments. New transportation infrastructures are often not built to make the lives of local residents easier but to move cargo from point A to point B. Thus, there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of such infrastructural developments.

Our key research question, therefore, is: Given the technosocial entanglement of people and infrastructure, how do changes in remote transportation systems affect human sociality and mobility?

CoRe is located in North Asia, at the junction of eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. We call the area the BAM region because it is defined by the Baykal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railroad and its sidetracks. In that region there are pockets with a long history of industrial development and resource extraction, while many parts of the area have been little affected by Soviet and post-Soviet modernization efforts. Current attempts to revitalize, improve and extend the railway Network serve as the backdrop for our project.



Olga Povoroznyuk, Stephanie McCallum and Peter Schweitzer are looking forward to presentations for the panel “Revisiting Railways: Sociality, Mobility, and Infrastructure”.


Submission deadline: April 10.


Olga Povoroznyuk, Stephanie McCallum and Peter Schweitzer invite presentations for the panel focused on the relations between railroad infrastructures and mobility.

Submission deadline: April 9.


CoRe-Team member Gertrude Saxinger was interviewed on the influence of resource industries on the populations and economies of northern regions as well as the social issues associated with 'workers on the move' to and from northern resource economies by Demography North.



Peter Schweitzer, Olga Povoroznyuk and Mia Bennett presented the paper “Uneven Development: Infrastructure, Population Change and Modernisation Along the Northern Sea Route” on Dec 13 2017 at the ArcticNet conference “Arctic Change” in Québec, Canada.


Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk presented a paper on "The Baikal-Amur Mainline: Constructing a Railroad and Identities as a Socialist Megaproject" at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 30, 2017, Washington DC.


Olga Povoroznyuk: "Overcoming remoteness? Technosocial networks, mobility and modernization along the Baykal-Amur Mainline” and Mia Bennett: “Development on Ice: Global Transportation Infrastructure and Resource Frontier” on the 9th of November 2017.