The overarching question of this article is how can we develop a critical understanding of the social place of highways and automobility in the case of a non-capitalist European context such as socialist Albania? Socialism was a period of modernisation for Albania. Part of this modernisation project was the production of a modern built environment, especially infrastructures and urban spaces. Within this context during socialism thousands of miles of new roads were constructed in the country. The remarkably limited use of roads, combined with their systematic building and maintenance, kept this infrastructure's materiality in a relatively good condition for many decades. Since the early 1990s, though, the end of the regime has signified a period of booming mobility and automobility. Postsocialism and the wider context of neoliberalism have been marked by state withdrawal from many of its previous roles, and the maintenance of basic infrastructures has become increasingly dependent on international aid. Nevertheless, the roads are currently being socially reappropriated and reconfigured, as people embrace automobility, which was a very limited practice during socialism. This article explores the kind of socio-material relationships that road construction and the roads themselves generated in socialist Albania and how these are linked to postsocialist spatial practices.
|Title of host publication||Roads and Anthropology: Ethnography, Infrastructures, (Im)mobility|
|Publisher||Taylor and Francis Inc.|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 14 Apr 2016|