The road

An ethnography of (im)mobility, space, and cross-border infrastructures in the Balkans

This book is an ethnographic and historical study of the main Albanian-Greek cross-border highway. It is not merely an ethnography on the road but an anthropology of the road. Complex sociopolitical phenomena such as EU border security, nationalist politics, transnational kinship, social–class divisions, or post–cold war capitalism, political transition, and financial crises in Europe—and more precisely in the Balkans—can be seen as phenomena that are paved in and on the cross-border highway. The highway studied is part of an explicit cultural–material nexus that includes elements such as houses, urban architecture, building materials, or vehicles. Yet even the most physically rooted and fixed of these entities are not static, but have fluid and flowing physical materialities. The highway featured in this book helps us to explore anew classical anthropological and sociological categories of analysis in direct reference to the infrastructure. Categories such as the house, domestic life, the city, kinship, money, boundaries, nationalism, statecraft, geographic mobility, and distance, to name but a few, seem very different when seen from or on the road.

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‘'The Road' is a must-read for the anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, historians and political scientists dealing with space, nationalism, migration, socialism and post-socialism. Hopefully, it will one day come to inform the policies of the politicians and bureaucrats managing the transformations of contemporary Europe.'
Florin Faje, Babes-Bolyai University
Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe

‘…the book remains a rich and highly informative ethnographic work with intriguing suggestions and concrete arguments, both at a theoretical and empirical level. I would definitely encourage readers interested in the anthropological study of infrastructure and space, as well as those interested in the study of political, economic, and cultural relationships in the Balkans and post-Cold War Europe, to read this book.'
Petros Petridis
Journal of Modern Hellenism

‘Roads, for Dalakoglou, are anxious technologies, promising gifts but bringing dangers: smuggling, drugs, human trafficking, money laundering. He uses roads to move between scales, from the intimate interactions of small town Albanian life, to the political economic ambitions of the socialist state, to the cross-border migrations that structure contemporary Albania. Tracing the history of the road through socialist and post-socialist history Dalakaglou explores pyramid schemes, collective road building projects, stories and myths of the road, accidents and migrations in a rich and compelling ethnography.'
Brian Larkin, Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University

‘The focus on borders between marginal countries such as Albania and Greece offers an original approach to the shifting 'centralities' and 'peripheries' of contemporary Europe and beyond.'
Allegra lab
February 2018

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