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 MacCallum and Peter Schweitzer convened a panel on railroads at the conference of European Association of Social Anthropologists.


PI Peter Schweitzer has contributed a video lecture on "Moving to the Arctic" to the MOOC: Global Arctic.


CoRe-team member Olga Povoroznyuk presented her fieldwork at the symposium organized by Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University, Japan, July 5-6, 2018


Newspaper "BAM" reports about the visit of University of Vienna students to the city and the relevance of local BAM museum for the CoRe project.


Presentation of preliminary results of CoRe to the Administration of the Ust-Kut Rajon and Verkhnemarkovo.


Anthropological Field Practice „Identity, Remoteness and Infrastructure” in the BAM Region, May 20– June 7, 2018