Roads and vehicles are principal artefacts in shaping the Anthropocene. They are local and trans-national devices that are more than material or infrastructural technologies. This panel addresses their alternative, hybrid and/or subversive uses.
For over a century now, road networks and motorised vehicles exist at the heart of the globalisation of human cultures and civilizations. Their reliance on rock aggregate mining as well as steel and petro-chemical industries means that their impact is truly anthropocenic. Roads serve as navigation routes for transport, people and goods, whereas cars are containers of convenience, status/wealth and identities. Both are more than material or infrastructural artefacts. They are socio-cultural phenomena - conducive spatial environments for expressive events and actions, as well as for diverse forms of movement along or within them. People thus endow roads, cars, motorcycles, trucks with broad meanings. With this in mind, we shall explore the paths less travelled. Hence, we invite papers addressing alternative uses of roads and ground vehicles. Sub-themes can consider, but are not restricted to, such topics as: roads that function as a social stage and serve as 'soft' or cultural infrastructures; hybrid types of displacement such as racing, car sharing, trailblazing, etc. These themes can extend to include how vehicles and road-scapes are employed for trade, crime, self-expression, art, or political protest. What makes these appropriate stages for such actions? Are there some intrinsic qualities of roads and vehicles that make them especially appropriate as commemorative and remembrance spaces? Similarly, insight into the temporal dimension of roads and the mechanised vehicles that travel along them, nocturnal or diurnal patterns and consequent industrial transformations might also highlight further understanding on the social constructions of the Anthropocene.