Accepted paper:

The E67: Ground-level connections for a Baltic states anthropologist

Author:

Gareth Hamilton (University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with the experience of travelling along the Euroroute E67 and the image of mobility/connectedness that a non-flying anthropologist has of mobility in the Baltic states.

Paper long abstract:

This paper deals with the experience of travelling along the Euroroute E67. It addresses somewhat undesired diversions from both the road and the image of mobility/connectedness that a non-flying anthropologist has of mobility. The E67 (the ‘Via Baltica’) is the terrestrial supply line between the Baltic states and the rest of the EU. For a non-flying anthropologist, it, however, acts as a place of delay and frustration, due to infrastructure quality lacunae with symbolic and practical importance in representing the disconnection of the Baltic states, including Baltic anthropology, from the European 'mainland'. Beginning with the Ingoldian notion of ‘lines’, I discuss these symbolic and practical aspects based on current political developments. These include EU funding issues, as well as the impact that special political geography – represented, for example, by Nato’s so-called ‘Suwałki gap’ – has had on Baltic international relations and senses of self, whether in person or mediated by vernacular mappings of these routes. In practically relying on public transport infrastructure in what seems to be a form of dissidence with regards to the normal hate-carbon-use-carbon-nonetheless academic mobility, I discuss how journeys on ‘bus lines’ (over which we have little control) can highlight the affective disconnectedness which Baltic anthropology suffers. Further, based on subversion of normal bus line practice, I show how it is possible to make such journeys ‘doable’, and how transport bricolage becomes important for mobility in an aviation-favouring world. Finally, I consider some of the apparent promises to the situation ‘Rail Baltica’ offers.

panel P106
Auto-anthropocenes: alternative uses of roads and vehicles