Configurations of “remoteness” (CoRe) - Entanglements of Humans and Transportation Infrastructure in the Baykal-Amur Mainline (BAM) Region

The Arctic and Subarctic have gained a surprising amount of attention in recent years. What used to be the ‘remote’ backwaters of global economic and political currents has morphed into a new frontier of geopolitics, resource extraction, and developmental designs. New transportation infrastructure often plays a critical role in the transformation of ‘remoteness’. The effects of new transportation infrastructures – accessibility, the shrinking of social and physical distance, the increased speed of connection – are not uncontested. On the one hand, those for whom ‘remoteness’ has been an asset, are often among the opponents of such developments. New transportation infrastructures are often not built to make the lives of local residents easier but to move cargo from point A to point B. Thus, there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of such infrastructural developments.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: July 2015 - July 2020

Funding: FWF

Project Leader: Peter Schweitzer (Scientific Lead)

Project Staff: Alexis Sancho-ReinosoOlga Povoroznyuk, Gertrude Saxinger, Sigrid Schiesser, Christoph Fink (nicht mehr aktiv)

Student Collaborators: Gertraud Illmeier, Ilya Krylov


Gangs, Brands and Intellectual Property Rights: Interdisciplinary Comparative Study of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and Luxury Brands

In 2010, Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the most famous and most powerful outlaw motorcycle club in the world, operating in more than fifty countries across the world, sued Alexander McQueen, the iconic fashion designer, for trademark infringement. This case brought to light the Hells Angels obsession with protection of their intellectual property, an obsession that has since the 70s slowly spread across the world of outlaw motorcycle clubs at large. The fact that the most notorious and self-proclaimed outlaws take recourse to the very law they attempt to disregard raises questions about the nature of the encounters across the legal and illegal as well as of the strategic use of legal protection afforded by, for instance, the trademark law. The project aims at understanding the ways in which outlaw motorcycle clubs use the law and legal businesses to further their interests and acquire power across the spaces of legality and illegality. The project will specifically focus on outlaw motorcycle clubs in central Europe (Austria, Czech republic and parts of Germany) and will utilize ethnographic and historical research, combined with media and legal analysis.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: August 2016 – September 2018 (as Senior Visiting Researcher)

Project Leader: Tereza Kuldova


Placing Memories: Ageing labour migrants in Vienna

Austria’s so-called “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter), who immigrated from former Yugoslavia and Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s, are now reaching retirement age. In Vienna, where the majority of them have settled, one-third of the population 55 years and older will soon be first-generation migrants. Although these labour migrants have shaped Vienna for more than half a century, their histories and vital contribution to Austria’s post-WWII economic success are not collected and commemorated (e.g. in memorials, street names) and have not become a part of Austria’s national collective memory. By locating and analysing ageing labour migrants’ memory places, this study explores how these histories are remembered outside of national commemoration practices.

This study will probe into the nature of mnemonic practices in an ethnically diverse context and will explore the role of place as a mnemonic device in the context of migration, ageing and multi-locality. Thus, this study on ageing migrants facilitates a discussion of memory, migration, and place – three research fields that have not yet been systematically studied in their interrelation. This is achieved via a mix of innovative qualitative methods including memory-guided city walks, semi-structured narrative interviews and participant observation. The ageing labour migrants’ memory places are expected to inherit a transnational dimension reflecting the migrants’ mobility and their multi-locale past. In order to capture this transnational dimension in its full capacity, I will accompany a select number of informants to their country of origin. This approach penetrates the still-persistent concentration on memory and place within a tight national framework. This study will trigger novel empirical findings on ageing labour migrants and will provide ample opportunity for developing theoretical insights in the interdisciplinary fields of migration studies, memory studies, anthropology of ageing and the intersection of said fields.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: Juli 2015 - Juli 2018

Funding: Austrian Science Fund, FWF-T 702

Project Leader: Monika Palmberger