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.



Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk will present their papers on promises of infrastructure at the annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies to be held in San-Fransisco on November 23-26, 2019


Olga Povoroznyuk will chair a panel "Indigenous Political Imaginaries" and present a paper based on CoRe research at the annual meeting of American Anthropological Association in Vancouver, 20-24 November 2019


CoRe-team member Sigrid Wentzel shares her experinece of ethnographic work in the republic of Skaha in Eastern Siberia on University of Vienna's YouTube channel (in German language)


Olga Povoroznyuk and Peter Schweitzer presented CoRe and co-chaired a panel on infrastructures and industrial development at the XI Siberian Studies conference in St. Petersburg.


Sigrid Irene Wentzel supported the national museum of the Sakha Republic to document ethnographic objects at Weltmuseum Wien.


CoRe team member Gertrude Saxinger co-organised together with J.Otto Habeck and Andreas Womelsdorf the workshop “Sustainabilities’, Or The Politics of a Many-Faced (not negotiable?) Concept” in Konstanz, Germany, at the DGSKA conference in September 2020