3rd CoRe Workshop

Mobility and Remoteness: What is the connection?

While a lot of the recent literature on mobility has focused on urban, cosmopolitan and transnational contexts, remote areas are often neglected or implicitly defined by the absence of movement. Yet, in the 21st century, the increasing interest of resource developers and politicians to such remote regions as the Arctic brings more mobility and connectivity to these “frontiers” through new infrastructure building and communication technologies.

The term mobility, in the sense of spatial practices, refers to different types of movements and migrations, from nomadism to contemporary transport. Mobility infrastructures enable and – sometimes dictate – people’s travels and flows of goods, resources and information around the world. In addition to “traditional” means and systems of transportation, including tracks and trails, “modern” infrastructures – highways and railroads, aviation corridors, river channels and sea routes – are being continuously imagined and built.
Our workshop intends to explore the many dimensions of mobility under conditions of remoteness – paucity of tracks and low accessibility, distance from administrative centers, as well as social, economic and cultural marginalization and other characteristics of non-central places. The questions we are going to address include but are not limited to the following:

  • How does spatial mobility reconfigure local perceptions and experiences of remoteness?
  • What are the motives, conditions, advantages and limitations of (im)mobility in remote areas in contrast to centers?
  • What roles do ethnicity, gender, age, way of life and other social categories play in concepts, imageries and practices of appropriation of space and how can this research contribute to intersectionality studies?
  • In which situations and for which actors can remoteness be a resource?
  • Can we speak of a “Right to Remoteness” in addition to the “Right to the City”?
  • How do transportation infrastructures impact 1) mobility patterns or 2) social networks? What is the role of communication technologies (mobile phones, Internet, etc.), in addressing mobility and remoteness?


Friday, May 26th 

09:00 Registration

  • 09:30  Peter Schweitzer [University of Vienna, Austria]
    Opening, Introduction to the Workshop and the CoRe Project
  • 09:45  Keynote: Phillip Vannini [Royal Roads University, Canada]       
    The tyranny of distance and the nuisance of proximity

10:30 Coffee Break

  • 11:00 Alix Johnson [University of California, Santa Cruz, USA]
    Icelandic Information Infrastructure and the Making of Marginality
  • 11:30 Andrian Vlakhov [European University at St. Petersburg, Russia]
    Symbolic boundaries in the borderless space: mobility and telecommunication in Svalbard
  • 12:00 Philipp Budka [University of Vienna, Austria]
    Internet for remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario

12:30 Lunch Break

  • 14:00 Amy Penfield [University of Manchester, UK]
    Infrastructures of Informality: mobility and possibility in a remote Amazonian mining region
  • 14:30 Stephanie McCallum [University of California, Santa Cruz, USA]    
    Topologies of Dis/Connection: Aging Railroad Infrastructure and Rhythms of Mobility in Rural Buenos Aires

15:00 Coffee Break

  • 15:30 Katja Seidel [Max Planck Institut für ethnologische Forschung, Germany]
    Envisioning Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal: Past, Present and Future of an Uncanny Dream
  • 16:00 Gertrude Saxinger/Jelena Tosic [University of Vienna, Austria]
    Capturing Mobility through the Multilocality Lens; Cases from Russia and the Balkans

18:00 Conference Dinner

Saturday, May 27th

  • 09:30 Christoph Fink/Gertrude Saxinger/Olga Povoroznyuk/
    Sigrid Schiesser/Peter Schweitzer
    [University of Vienna, Austria]
    The Baikal-Amur Mainline and Human Mobility: Experiences and Expectations
  • 10:15 Vladimir Davydov  [Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg, Russia]
    Mobility as a reflexive process: pragmatic use of infrastructure and the landscape in the northern Baikal and Zabaikal’e

10:45 Coffee Break

  • 11:15 Gabriella Körling [Stockholm University, Sweden]               
    ‘When will we hear the whistling of the train?’ Imaginations of connectivity and remoteness in a Nigerian town
  • 11:45 Andreas Womelsdorf [University of Heidelberg, Germany]
    Beyond ‹the Frontier›? Notes about Infrastructure, Mobility, and Colonialism

12:45 Concluding Remarks and Discussion

14:15 Open Discussion of upcoming ERC-Grant Proposal


Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien/Vienna

Fourth Floor

Hörsaal/Auditorium A


Download the program here.


For further information contact: ilja.steffelbauer@univie.ac.at