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(P30) Overcoming distance: critical perspectives on infrastructural transformations and mobility

Convenor: Tobias Holzlehner, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg; Peter Schweitzer, University of Vienna

Abstract: The concept of modernity has been implemented by nation states through infrastructural means and by a variety of technologies geared at overcoming distance. This panel invites contributors to critically reflect on the relationship of hunter-gatherer groups with infrastructural change, thus gauging their reaction to technological evolutions and devolutions.

Keywords: infrastructure, technology, mobility, evolution / devolution, networks

Format: standard panel

Precirculated papers: none required

 

As part of a worldwide phenomenon and decisive outcome of modernity, hunter-gatherer societies are increasingly drawn into what Emmanuel Castell has termed the global “network society.” Modernity has been expressed and implemented by nation states through infrastructural means, connecting peripheral regions with power centers through a variety of distance demolishing technologies. The myth of modernity has encompassed the questionable idea of a linear progress of technological advance, yet this process has been less smooth and linear than expected, and more than often proceeded in ruptures, seismic shocks and fall-backs. Infrastructural evolutions often collude with the debris of progress, as a sign of the failed attempt to create a smooth socio-economic space for the mobility of capital and technology.

This panel invites contributors to reflect on the relationship of hunter-gatherer groups with infrastructural changes, gauging the reaction and adaptation to technological evolutions and devolutions. Underscoring the materiality of the infrastructural base, we propose to ask critical questions about the effects of technological and infrastructural transitions on hunter-gatherer groups. Hunter-gatherer groups are not only passive recipients or victims of consequential infrastructural changes, but rather often show a remarkable ability of adaptation and resilience. We encourage addressing questions of distance, mobility and immobility among hunter-gatherers, influenced by major infrastructural shifts. Highlighting the socio-political aspects of infrastructural change, we therefore envision reflecting critically on technology, networks and infrastructural brokers. Possible topics can include, but are not limited by, the following themes: infrastructural change and immobility/mobility of hunter-gatherer groups; voluntary escapes from infrastructural inclusion; socio-political effects of road and rail infrastructure on hunting and gathering practices; effects of electrification, communication and information technology; strategies of dealing with infrastructural ruptures in marginal regions; and local (unintended) conversions of infrastructural intends.

 

 

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