Accepted paper:

Shades of Grey - Tricksters at a Highway service station

Author:

Michael Zinganel (Tracing Spaces)

Paper short abstract:

Michel de Certeau had introduced the conceptional figure of the trickster, facilitating infrastructure built by powerful players for his own needs. For him roads - and unexpectedly even modern highway corridors - offer opportunities for a smaller scale roadside economy covering many shades of grey.

Paper long abstract:

I propose to expand the dichotomy of paths and roads to modern highway corridors, where intersections are rare and service station limited. While roads still offer opportunities for a smaller scale roadside economy covering many shades of grey, at modern highway corridors there seem to be no chance at all.

Following Michel de Certeau's distinction between 'strategies' (of those in power) and 'tactics' (of tricksters) I propose to introduce the notions of 'nodes' and 'knots' alongside roads, where nodes are constituted by strategies of powerful institutions within logistic networks and the network of road corridors, whereas knots are established by the tactics of individuals to fulfil their everyday needs in transit. Nodes and knots can be independent to each other, but they are not always distinct, they often overlap, when existing nodes are used for the individuals' practice of 'knotting'. Here trade might happen, rituals and routines developed, contacts initiated with regions of origin or target. It is also where those who were mobile before engage in cultivating and maintaining the on-the-spot, fragmented communities.

Although highway service stations are officially closed off to pedestrians, unobtrusive gates offer access to/from the hinterland, for supply, staff and fire-police access only. They can be facilitated by neighbours to walk to a highway station to offer services, purchase goods at the integrated shop or spend part of their leisure time at the gas station café participating at and enjoying the atmosphere of a modern life in transit.

panel P107
From paths to roads: the transformative capacities of roads on movement and relationships