Mobile cultures of (dis-)integration

Nodes of transportation and transition along pan-European traffic corridors

Michael Hieslmair, Michael Zinganel

The pan-European traffic corridors are social backstage zones of the wealthy in Europe. When increasing numbers of people are obliged to spend increasing amounts of time in transit, then these routes, corridors, vehicles and stopping points become important public places for dwelling-in-transit where trade might happen, rituals and routines be 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. Here we can observe a “vernacular cosmopolitanism” and “doing with space” becomes a kind of “knotting”: a multi and trans-local mobile culture of integration specific alongside these corridors.

The alternative models of urbanism that ensue from the paradigmatic shift at these spaces, are shaped by polyrhythmic densifications and the continual performance of difference such as also increasingly inform our everyday lives. These nodes and knots are perfect places to investigate both the strategies of (supra-)national institutions to control mobilities but also how this “knotting” is practiced on site in a widely mobile/mobilized life and how publics are un-done and remade.

The selected illustrations show a wide variety of nodes of mobilities along the pan-European road corridors in a triangle between Vienna, Tallinn and the Bulgarian-Turkish border: The photographs, taken from a distanced angle, show specific infrastructures and architectures embedded in the mobility landscape, whereby the variety of uses and functions of these nodes can only be guessed at. In contrast, the drawings zoom into the (inter-)actions of social actors, also offering graphic views into the history of some of these places and thereby assigning anthropological significance to what otherwise might be considered as typical non-places.

Corridor 9. E85 in Romania: a disused gas station kiosk from communist times transformed into a generic rustic inn by a Roma family.
Corridor 10. E75 in Serbia: gas station and truck parking located on the former Autoput, explicitly aimed at Turkish drivers.
Corridor 10. E80 between Dimitrovgrad and Kalotina: trucks queuing up at the Serbian border to Bulgaria. In the foreground the levelled route for the new motorway section, financed and constructed with the participation of Chinese companies.
Corridor 1. E67 Adaži, Latvia: An old low-bed truck parked by the roadside carrying an even older municipal bus with large signs on the windows advertising the services of a rather informal-loo- king TIR truck drivers’ stop on a vacant, derelict industrial estate.
Corridor 1. E67 Adaži, Latvia: Triggered by the fear of a potential Russian invasion, NATO shows significant presence in Baltic nations. Here a convoy of NATO trucks heading north, stops at an abandoned border station.
Corridor 1. A5 Marijampole, Lithuania: a second hand car market with cars “collected” in Western Europe and sold directly from the transporter to end consumers or dealers—who then transport them further to other post-Soviet regions using the Russian railway tracks with its wider gauge, which starts from here.
Corridor 1. E12, E18, E20, E67, E75, E263, E265 Tallinn, Estonia: vehicles waiting for embarkation for the ferry link between the twin cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. Each harbor represents a funnel or bottleneck of several road corridors narrowing down to a single ferry line, with the rhythms of the ships strongly affecting both towns.
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2023