Marshrutka Mobility Infrastructures

Regulations, Materialities, Fluidities

Infrastructure lecture series: Wladimir Sgibnev from the Leibnitz Institute for Regional Geography will give a talk about informal public transport in post-Soviet countries and the fluidity of infrastructures.

Time: 20 May 2019, 5-7pm Location: Lecture hall 4, auditorium building, Universitätsstrasse 3

Abstract “Informal” public transport solutions, both in the Global South (dolmuş, matatu, tro tro etc.) and North (Uber, Lyft etc.) challenge a static and technocratic vision of mobility infrastructures. Their atomistic structure, elusive definitions and often vague legal frameworks favoured the emergence of bottom-up regulation arrangements, and thwarted top-down attempts at including them in official and corporate frameworks. The same goes for the infrastructural back-end: “informal” transport may cannibalise on pre-existing road surfaces or stations, and largely lacks depots and dispatchers, instead relying on customary or ad-hoc solutions.

Taking on the example of post-Soviet marshrutka minibuses, the presentation conceptualises public transport infrastructures as fluidities, where not only the vehicles are in motion, but also services, facilities and regulations. Actors constantly experience a condition of liminality, contrasting their experiences and aspirations with Western and non-Western modernisation projects, as well as state-funded public transport services of the Soviet era.

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