Accepted paper:

Disconnecting connections: implementation of basic engineering networks in a Roma settlement

Authors:

Tomáš Kobes (University of West Bohemia)

Paper short abstract:

By focusing on basic engineering network implementation in an East Slovak Roma settlement, the paper examines the infrastructural change as a system of disconnecting connections creating a complex of heterogeneous practices and knowledge, which empowers the existing local trap of social exclusion.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on my fieldwork, the paper will discuss effects of implementation of basic engineering networks in an Eastern Slovak Roma settlement. According to current information, there are about 900 socially excluded areas in Slovakia, usually described both by the lay public and professionals as Roma settlements. In many cases these areas are illegal and lack basic engineering networks and civic amenities. However, since late 1990s, many of these areas have gone through deep structural change, focusing mainly on building basic infrastructure and new housing estates. This structural change organizes space and social relationships on a local level in new and often unexpected ways. By focusing on infrastructural implementation (public lighting and electricity network implementation) the paper examines this infrastructural change as a system of "disconnecting connections" where it is possible to identify a complex of heterogeneous practices and knowledge both among members of the majority and of the residents of the Roma settlement, which empowers the existing local trap of social exclusion.

panel P060
The anthropology of infrastructure: ordering people, places, and imaginaries