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Co-producing the Car and the Stratified Street: Automobility and Space in Russia

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How do Russians interpret and discuss the Russian road? There are the clichés of the poor road quality and maintenance; an abysmal culture of driving where many have obtained a licence with no training; the sense of the ‘wild’ open road populated by untouchable elites, bandits and thugs, along with corrupt highway police viewed as the worst of all. But in many ways driving has become a much better experience in the last ten years, and none of these factors are representative ‘objective’ realities. Nonetheless, such discursive meanings derived from road-talk shared by Russians make up an important part of the ‘real’ stratified Russian street and automobile experience. However, without delving into subjective reality, the discursive street cannot be understood. Thus, to illustrate, I begin with ethnographic conversations between car drivers as well as my own experience as a road-user in Russia over twenty years. This section proposes a provocative conceit: space and roads reveal a state-society nexus that is part of the unfinished business of postsocialist transformation (nondemocratic, unequal and typified by an incoherent and coercive state). The recourse to auto-ethnography is necessary because the qualitative difference in experiencing streets and driving in Russia since 1991 and in the ‘West’ should not be underestimated.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelThe Post-socialist Street
RedaktørerTauri Tuvikene, Ger Duijzings
Antal sider20
ForlagBerghahn Books
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2021

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