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Introduction

Precarious Connections: On the Promise and Menace of Railroad Projects

Peter Schweitzer and Olga Povoroznyuk

Abstract

This introduction attempts to situate railroads, which have rarely been the object of ethnographic attention, within current debates of anthropology and related disciplines. While mobility is certainly one dimension of human-railroad entanglements, the introduction calls to explore political, social, material, and affective lives of railroads in Europe and Asia as well. Often, connections provided by railroads are precarious at best: enveloped in state and local politics, they appear to some as promise and to others as menace. Planning, construction, decay, and reconstruction constitute the temporal and material life cycle of these infrastructures. Attending to particular ethnographic and historical contexts, the introduction aims to demonstrate how railroads, these potent symbols of modernity, continue to be good to think with.

The version of record is December 2020, though the actual publication date is May/June 202.

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LGBT Refugees and the Visual Representation of Transnational Mobility

Ernst van der Wal

Abstract

This article examines how photographic interviews can be used to represent the life stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees. Transnational and cross-border movements have a significant impact on the photographic and narrative self-representation of such refugees. By focusing on the example of a photographic interview project, The Story That Travelled, this article demonstrates how ideas surrounding community, citizenship, and transnational mobility are interpreted and visualized by refugees who have fled their countries of origin because of their sexuality and/or gender. In addition, this article considers how digital technologies impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees and their experience and negotiation of borders.

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A new research agenda to move beyond (a)gendered regions

Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary

Abstract

Based on an extensive bibliographical review of the region– gender nexus, the article first assesses the quasi inexistence of gender issues in regional journals and the symmetrical absence of regional issues in gender publications. In so doing, it establishes the specific positioning of the Regions & Cohesion journal within that broad panorama. In launching an agenda to reverse that trend, the text then sets to offer two goals for future research and publication: (1) gendering the people, feminizing the regions; (2) queering the regions: the transborder condition as an inspiration.

Resumen

Con base en una extensa revisión bibliográfica de la producción científica sobre el vínculo entre región y género, este artículo comienza estableciendo la virtual inexistencia de temas de género en las publicaciones científicas de estudios regionales y la simétrica ausencia de los temas regionales en las revistas de estudios de género. Al hacerlo, establece la posición específica de la revista Regions & Cohesion dentro de este amplio panorama. El texto procede a proveer las bases de un programa encaminado a invertir esta tendencia, proponiendo dos objetivos para las investigaciones y publicaciones futuras: (1) dar un género a “la gente” que compone las regiones, feminizándolas; (2): “queering the regions”, analizar las regiones con lentes “queer”, observando la condición transfronteriza como fuente de inspiración en este campo.

Résumé

Sur la base d'une analyse bibliographique approfondie de la production scientifique concernant les liens entre région et genre, cet article commence par établir la quasi-inexistence des questions de genre dans les publications scientifiques en études régionales et celle, symétrique, des questions régionales dans les revues en études de genre. Ce faisant, il établit la position spécifique de la revue Regions & Cohesion au sein de ce panorama très large. Le texte procède enfin à poser les fondations d'un agenda destiné à inverser cette tendance et ce, en proposant deux objectifs pour les recherches et les publications à venir : 1/ Donner un genre aux « gens » qui composent les régions en les féminisant : 2/ « Queering the regions », c'est-à-dire faire passer les régions au crible d'une grille de lecture « queer », l'analyse de la condition transfrontière pouvant servir de source d'inspiration dans ce domaine.

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Novel Reviews

Deborah Snow Molloy and Robert M. Briwa

Ann Petry, The Street (London: Virago, 2019), 416pp., £9.99 (soft back)

Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil's Highway: A True Story (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004), xxi +239 pp. $16.99 (paperback).

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On the Trails of Free-Roaming Elephants

Human-Elephant Mobility and History across the Indo-Myanmar Highlands

Paul G. Keil

Abstract

Humans and elephants have historically shared the forested mountain ranges of Zomia, a geography defined by the regular movement of people and an ecology shaped by the movement of its elephant population. This article will examine how free-roaming elephant pathways facilitated human mobility in the highlands defining the Indo-Myanmar border. It will analyze the more-than-human agency that emerges when following elephant trails and the varying role this forest infrastructure might have played in the social and political history of the region. The article will explore two historical examples. First, the migration of a Lisu community in Upper Myanmar who utilized elephant paths to navigate their passage. Second, how the British Empire exploited a network of elephant-human tracks to subjugate the peoples living in Mizoram, northeast India. In these regions the patterns of migration, history of colonization, and identities and practices of communities must be understood in relation to wild elephants.

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The psychology of regions

A Vygotskian perspective

Luk Van Langenhove

Abstract

There exists today a large consensus among scholars of different disciplines that regions are more than a geographical concept and that they are socially constructed. This implies that somehow people must play a role in the emergence of a region as an entity of governance and as a source of identity. But the relation between regions and the socio-psychological processes that constitute them remains unclear. This article aims to clarify what the social construction process of a region means and what kind of psychological processes play a role in it as well how such social construction relates with how regions contribute to people's identity formation. For this theoretical exercise, use will be made of the so-called Vygotsky scheme that distinguishes between four different conversational spaces.

Resumen

Hoy en día existe un gran consenso entre los estudiosos de las diferentes disciplinas de que las regiones son más que un concepto geográfico y que están construidas socialmente. Esto implica que las personas deben desempeñar un papel en el surgimiento de una región como entidad de gobierno y como fuente de identidad. Pero la relación entre las regiones y sus procesos socio-psicológicos constituyentes sigue siendo vaga. Este artículo pretende aclarar qué significa el proceso de construcción social de una región y qué tipo de procesos psicológicos ocurren en él, y también cómo dicha construcción social se relaciona con cómo las regiones contribuyen a la formación de la identidad de las personas. Se utilizará el esquema de Vygotsky que distingue entre cuatro espacios de conversación.

Résumé

Il est aujourd'hui largement reconnu au sein de différentes disciplines que les régions sont plus qu'un simple concept géographique et qu'elles sont socialement construites. Cela implique que les individus doivent jouer un rôle dans l'émergence d'une région en tant qu'entité de gouvernance et source d'identité. Mais la relation entre les régions et les processus socio-psychologiques qui les constituent reste floue. Cet article vise à clarifier le sens exact du processus de construction sociale d'une région et quels types de processus psychologiques y jouent un rôle, ainsi que la relation entre cette construction sociale et la façon dont les régions contribuent à la formation de l'identité des personnes. Pour cet exercice théorique, nous utiliserons le schéma dit de Vygotsky qui distingue quatre espaces conversationnels différents.

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Railway Territorialities

Topology and Infrastructural Politics in Alpine Italy

Mateusz Laszczkowski

Abstract

This article examines transportation infrastructures’ capacity to produce and transform social space through a focus on the contested history of railway development in Valsusa, Italy. I draw on participant observation and interviews with local residents and activists during ethnographic fieldwork in 2014–2015. I first describe how railways helped form modern sociality in Valsusa in the twentieth century. Subsequently, I explore contrasting topological effects of a projected high-speed rail through the valley. For planners envisioning a trans-European space of exchange, the railway is a powerful way to “shrink” space; for local residents, this implies reducing Valsusa to a traffic “corridor.” Yet their protest generates new social relations and knowledges, giving rise to a notion of “territory” as unbound and connected to a transnational space of resistance to capitalist expansion.

Open access

(Re)Constructing the Baikal-Amur Mainline

Continuity and Change of (Post)Socialist Infrastructure

Olga Povoroznyuk

Abstract

The construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) in East Siberia and the Russian Far East in the 1970s and 1980s was the largest technological and social engineering project of late socialism. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the BAM was dogged by economic bust, decline, and public disillusionment. BAM-2, a recently launched state program of technological modernization, aims to complete a second railway track. The project elicits memories as well as new hopes and expectations, especially among “builders of the BAM.” This article explores continuity and change between BAM-1 and BAM-2. It argues that the reconstruction efforts of the postsocialist state are predetermined by the durability of the infrastructure as a materialization of collective identities, memories, and emotions.

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Rethinking “new regionalisms” out of Africa 2020

Timothy M. Shaw and Abigail Kabandula

Abstract

This article suggests that the quarter of the world's states that are African can yet contribute to new “developmental” regionalisms in theory and practice, as the North enters a period of ambivalence about, if not retreat from, positive global engagement. This article builds on the pioneering analysis of Björn Hettne with Inotai on new regionalism and the related contributions out of contemporary “development” studies by Jan Nederveen Pieterse on East-South relations and Oliver Stuenkel on a non-Western world.

Resumen

Este artículo sugiere que la cuarta parte de los Estados del mundo que son africanos pueden todavía contribuir a nuevos regionalismos “desarrollistas” (DR) en la teoría y en la práctica, a medida que el Norte entra en un período de ambivalencia sobre, si no de retractación de, su compromiso global positivo. Este artículo se basa en el análisis pionero de Björn Hettne con Inotai sobre el nuevo regionalismo y las contribuciones conexas de los estudios contemporáneos sobre “desarrollo” de Jan Nederveen Pieterse sobre las relaciones Este–Sur y Oliver Stuenkel sobre un mundo no occidental.

Résumé

Cet article suggère que le quart des États du monde qui sont africains peuvent encore contribuer à de nouveaux régionalismes “développementaux” (DR) en théorie et en pratique, alors que le Nord entre dans une période d'ambivalence, voire de retrait, quant à son engagement mondial. Cet essai s'appuie sur l'analyse pionnière de Hettne et Inotai (1994) concernant le nouveau régionalisme et sur les contributions connexes des études contemporaines relatives au “développement” de Pieterse (2011) et les relations Est-Sud et de Stuenkel (2015 & 2016) pour le monde non occidental.

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Revisiting Europe in search of regional cohesion

John Agnew

Abstract

The regions–cohesion nexus focuses on how much people and place “prosperity” cannot be readily distinguished but are intimately connected. After reviewing some older sources on this logic, the article examines the current status of social cohesion within the European Union and what the future might hold depending on how much a crucial balance between global competitiveness and social cohesion is restored as the centerpiece of the supranational union. Current trends point in different directions, so critical choices will have to be made if the European Union as a whole is to survive and prosper. The income and fiscal divides between East and West and North and South should be the primary focus for rehabilitating the regions–cohesion nexus.

Resumen

El nexo regiones–cohesión se centra en la dificultad de distinguir las personas de los lugares en “prosperidad”, porque están intrínsecamente conectados. Después de revisar algunas referencias clásicas sobre esta lógica, este artículo examina el estado actual de la cohesión social dentro de la UE y lo que puede deparar el futuro dependiendo de cuánto se puede restablecer un equilibrio crucial entre la competitividad global y la cohesión social, como pieza central de la unión supranacional. Las tendencias actuales apuntan en diferentes direcciones. Será necesario tomar decisiones críticas para que la UE en su conjunto pueda sobrevivir y prosperar. El ingreso y las divisiones fiscales entre Oriente y Occidente, Norte y Sur, deberían ser el foco principal de atención para rehabilitar el nexo regiones–cohesión.

Résumé

L'étude du lien entre régions et cohésion montre l'interdépendance qui existe entre la prospérité des peuples de celles des lieux. A partir d'une revue de la bibliographie sur ce sujet, cet article examine l'état actuel de la cohésion sociale à l'intérieur de l'Union européenne. Il s'intéresse également à son futur et à l'importance de la restauration d'un équilibre entre la compétitivité globale et la cohésion sociale en faveur de l'union supranationale. Les tendances actuelles indiquent différentes directions de telle manière que des choix critiques devront être faits pour que l'EU dans son ensemble survive et prospère. Le nivelement des disparités salariales et fiscales entre l'Est et l'Ouest et le Nord et le Sud devrait être le premier objectif visant à réhabiliter le lien entre régions et cohésion.