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.


 News

30.11.2017
 

Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk will present 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.

09.11.2017
 

Olga Povoroznyuk will give a presentation on "Overcoming remoteness? Technosocial networks, mobility and modernization along the Baykal-Amur Mainline" at the annual meeting of the Austrian Polar Research Institute, Innsbruck, Austria on the 9th of November 2017.

25.10.2017
 

Fieldwork for CoRe Component A was conducted by Olga Povoroznyuk in August 2017. The report is now online.

18.10.2017
 

Peter Schweitzer participated in a round table on infrastructures at the conference "High altitudes meet high latitudes: Globalizing Polar Issues", Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

06.10.2017
 

Olga Povoroznyuk held presentation on "Baikal-Amur Mainline: Remembering Socialist Construction" at the bi-annual conference of the German Anthropological Association in Berlin, Germany on October 6 2017.

31.07.2017
 

Olga Povoroznyuk presented a CoRe paper at the Congress of Anthropologists and Ethnologists of Russia, the largest biannual national forum for the discipline of ethnology (anthropology), which was this time held in Izhevsk, the Republic of Udmurtiya on Jul 2-6.