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J.L. Black

In the debates surrounding the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway was used as a model. This article traces how eyewitness accounts of Canadian settlement patterns were used by Russian entrepreneurs to argue the case for the financing and organisation of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Given the tense international political climate at the end of the 19th century, the Trans-Siberian also became a focus for imperial rivalry. This article gives a good overview of comparative colonial enterprise in two great continental colonies.

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Stalin's railway to nowhere

'The Dead Road' (1947-1953)

Victor L. Mote

The uncompleted railway across Northern Siberia was one of the most shameful projects of the post-war era, involving many deaths and huge discomforts. Hailed by Stalin himself as a major part of his 'Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature', the scheme was dropped at his death in 1953. By that time, less than 600 kilometres were in working operation, even though up to 300,000 persons had been involved and about a third of them had perished, while more than 40 billion rubles of capital investment had been wasted. Ghostly labour camps, rusting rolling stock and rails, hundreds of bridges remain in what has been called 'an open air museum of human technology', preserved by nature's refrigerator - the tundra. The article describes the reasons for the railway project and the 'Great Plan', the organization involved, and the conditions in which the enslaved workforce struggled for survival and died.

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Traveling by the Book

New South Wales Railway Guides and the "Tourist Gaze"

Colin Symes

Travel guidebooks are a dominant form of tourist literature, of which one early example was the railway guide. It is commonly asserted that among the many transformations wrought by rail was that it changed the way the landscape was perceived from trains. Utilizing picturesque discourses railway guides contributed to this transformation. They also helped propel railway-allied tourism, particularly in New South Wales during the second half of the nineteenth century and led to the publication of guides focusing more on destinations than journeys.

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Couchsurfing Along the Trans-Siberian Railway and Beyond

Cosmopolitan Learning through Hospitality in Siberia

Dennis Zuev

This article focuses on the process of cosmopolitan learning among hosts in a hospitality couchsurfing network in Siberia. The data making up the empirical basis for the study were collected during fieldwork in Siberia: between 2007 and 2011 in Krasnoiarsk and Novosibirsk and from 2010 to 2012 in Irkutsk and Vladivostok. The article argues that the interactional dynamics between hosts and guests in cosmopolitan learning are determined by the combination of emotive and cognitive rewards. The primary emotional charge occurs as a result of the first interaction with the visitor, while a cognitive “bonus“ is represented by the opportunity to practice a foreign language in the home environment. In addition, hosts reflect on such aspects as the exchange of lifestyle ideas, the exposure to everyday habitual practices, and the realization of commonality and difference. These reflections leading to self-discovery in the comfort of one's own home constitute an important element in the process of cosmopolitan learning.

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'Greater good' in transit

The unwieldy career of a Swedish rail tunnel project

Åsa Boholm

Large-scale technological projects are born as visions among politicians and leaders of industry. For such visions to become real, they must be transformed from a virtual existence in the minds of their creators to a reality that can be accepted, even welcomed, by the public, not least by the communities who will become neighbors to those projects. Democracy implies that political decisions over the expenditure of public funds should answer not merely to the partial interests of stakeholders but should be accountable to the 'greater good' of society at large. Since a technological project materializes in what Latour calls a 'variable ontology-world', the greater good associated with it can be expected to be dynamic and shifting. The Hallandsås railway tunnel in southwestern Sweden illustrates how the very premises of the project's organizational logic have changed over time, the discourse of the greater good moving from an economical focus to an environmental one.

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Jennifer Foster

This paper considers the transformation of two decommissioned rail lines, in Paris and New York City, into ecologically-oriented green space. Situating the restoration of these rail lines within dominant trajectories of urbanization helps to understand how ecological restoration projects may function as financial instruments that intensify experiences of social injustice. This paper considers how the design and aesthetics of New York's High Line and Paris' Sentier Nature construct ecologies that also produce environmental subjectivities, and how these spaces reflect uneven investment in nature across urban landscapes. While the two case studies are aesthetically distinct, they are both woven into existing global patterns of urban transformation, and their evolution from disused industrial space to public park shares an emotional attachment to safety that demands removal of threatening inhabitants.

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The Far Eastern Railway in the 1930s

Relations and Reactions to the Repressions in the USSR

Elena Gnatovskaya and Alexander Kim

This article evaluates the relationship among the railroad staff of the Far East during the most dramatic events in the political life of the country at that time—repressions. As a rule, Russian academic literature indicates that few workers perceived the Soviet state’s mechanisms of pressure negatively. This article demonstrates that the railroad staff’s position was far more diverse than traditionally argued, which is a result of the broad variety of social groups working for the railroad in the Far East. The article demonstrates this diversity of opinions by focusing on those events that affected a significant number of railroad workers.

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The ethnographic negative

Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity

Bruce O’Neill

overlooking the parking lot of the Gara de Nord railway station in Bucharest, Romania. Dani, Razvan, and Razvan’s partner, Ioana, met at “the Gara” a decade earlier as young teenagers. They had fled deepening poverty and immiseration in the countryside as

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Leonid M. Goryushkin

Many earlier studies of the economic development of Siberia at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries presented an oversimplified view of the reality, and did not take account of the multifarious types of economic relationships or modes of production. Two collective works on the history of the Siberian peasantry and working class, published in the 1980s, demonstrate the complex and highly varied nature of the Siberian economy during the period studied. This included both small- and large-scale enterprises, concentration of capital, rapid expansion of the agricultural sector, huge population growth, significant foreign investment, co-operative associations and private artisan workshops, and the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway. Economic relationships comprised not only capitalist, but also small-scale commodity and even feudal structures. These were to some extent inter-active and inter-dependent, but the basic direction of development was towards capitalism, though at a slower pace than in European Russia.

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Elena Shulman, Stalinism on the Frontier of Empire: Women and State Formation in the Soviet Far East Andrew A. Gentes

Michael Melancon, The Lena Goldfields Massacre and the Crisis of the Late Tsarist State David G. Anderson

Chris Hann, “Not the Horse We Wanted!” Postsocialism, Neoliberalism and Eurasia Katy Fox

Deborah Manley, ed., The Trans-Siberian Railway: A Traveller’s Anthology Steven G. Marks

Sylvie Beyries and Virginie Vaté, Les civilisations du renne d’hier et d’aujourd’hui: approaches ethnohistoriques, archéologiques et anthropologiques Betsy Venard

Centre d’Etudes Mongoles et Sibériennes de l’Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes. 2005-2006, Etudes mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines David G. Anderson

K. David Harrison, When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge Myrdene Anderson

Ivan Valentinovich Rassadin, Khoziaistvo, byt i kul’tura tofalarov [The Economy, Way of Life, and Culture of the Tofalar] Robert W. Montgomery

Lyudmila I. Missonova, Uilta Sakhalina: Bol’shie problem malochislennogo naroda [Uilta of the Sakhalin Island: Large Issues of an Indigenous Community] Alexander B. Dolitsky

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