Marshrutka Mobility Infrastructures II

Marketisation, Social Embeddedness, Informality

In the next lecture on infrastructure, Lela Rekhviashvili from the Leibnitz Institute for Regional Geography will give a talk about contrasting notions of informal minibuses and 'sharing mobility'. 

Time: 27 May 2019, 5-7pm Location: Lecture hall 4, auditorium building, Universitätsstrasse 3

Abstract: When private and largely informal minibuses, locally known as Marshrutkas, proliferated on the ruins of decaying Soviet infrastructures in early 1990s, they were interpreted as markers of entrepreneurialism and emerging capitalist orders in the region. Interestingly, in contrast, less than a decade ago, new digitally powered ride-sourcing companies started branding themselves in opposition to individual consumption, private ownership, promoting themselves as enablers of sharing and sustainability. In this talk I challenge dominant understandings of both phenomenon, showing that marshrutkas are much more socially embedded – subjected to locally diverse socio-cultural norms – than digitally powered so called ‘ sharing mobility’ offers. Basing on ethnographic fieldwork material from Bishkek ( Kyrgyzstan) and Tbilisi ( Georgia) I illustrate why such misrepresentations are problematic for theory, and even more importantly for policy and practice. I draw attention to how ethnography of Marshrutka mobility infrastructures can inform our understanding of diverse responses to marketization in post-Soviet cities, but also more generally, to conceptualizing markets, social embeddedness and informality. 


Annette Veit
 Tel + 49 341 97 37 220
Fax + 49 341 97 37 229
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Ursula Rao
 +49 341 97 37 221
Institut für Ethnologie
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04109 Leipzig