|Abstract (english)|| |
The dissertation is a cultural anthropological analysis of the relationship between large infrastructural projects, population and landscape in the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar situated in the western part of Croatia. By applying qualitative ethnographic methodological framework, practices, narratives, memories, imagination, and emotions are analysed within the context of three pieces of infrastructure: the Lujzijana road (built 1803 – 1811) connecting cities of Rijeka and Karlovac; a dam in Lokve with an artificial lake (built 1952 – 1955); and the Rijeka – Zagreb highway (built 1970 – 2008). These infrastructural projects were built in different economic and political systems as projects of modernization: Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, socialist Yugoslavia, and Republic of Croatia. Since the 15th century, with its trails and paths, Gorski Kotar has been a transit corridor between continental Croatia and north Adriatic ports. First modern gravel roads were built in the 18th century. The construction of the Lujzijana road in the beginning of the 19th century, marked a turning point in development of the region. In this period, the village of Lokve, situated in the central part of the region, along with many other settlements alongside the Lujzijana road, rapidly grew and developed. In the 1950s, as a part of the hydroelectric power plant Vinodol, the dam on the river Lokvarka was built in the municipality of Lokve and a large accumulation lake was created between Lokve and the village of Mrzla Vodica. Because of the construction of the dam, inhabitants of the settlements that were to be flooded were relocated. This endeavour also caused a part of the Lujzijana road to be flooded. The construction of the dam marked a major spatial transformation and disturbed the traffic system of the municipality of Lokve, even though a bypass was built, called the New Lujzijana road. The Rijeka – Zagreb highway, finished in 2008, also passes through the area of the municipality of Lokve. The highway’s influences have brought and still continue to bring significant changes into lives of the inhabitants of the region of Gorski Kotar. Because all three forms of the infrastructure – the Lujzijana road as a historical road, the dam and accumulation lake, and the modern highway – physically and influentially intertwine in the area of Lokve, the municipality of Lokve was chosen as the main focus of the research and the main location of the fieldwork. However, the fieldwork was conducted as a multi-sited ethnography in order to ethnographically explore a circulation of cultural meanings in time and space, as well as micro and macro processes that shape the social space of the region (Marcus 1995). Under this strategy, fieldwork was conducted on nine other locations, and, besides semistructured interview, participant observation and autoethnography, the analysis was also based on archival material, newspaper articles, poetry, diverse publications and official documents, maps, photographs, internet research and quantitative data, with the goal of capturing lived experience and polysemic meanings (Rodman 1992) of the built environment for different people through time. Even though every road and dam has standard technical characteristics, no road or dam are universal categories, but are socially and culturally produced and constructed (Dalakoglou 2017: 11). Infrastructure explored as social pace offers a productive way of understanding how space is shaped, reshaped, and transformed into a symbolic place. However, the focus is not on infrastructure per se, but on people’s relationship with the infrastructure. Space of the infrastructure in this research considers material and immaterial elements: it is the space of the Lujzijana road, the dam on river Lokvarka and the Lokvarsko lake, the Rijeka – Zagreb highway, the space that is under influence of infrastructure (landscape, settlements, region), as social, cultural and symbolic reproductions. The main goal is to explore the ways of construction of relationship between people and their surroundings, meanings inscribed in the space of infrastructure, experience and memories contained in the space of infrastructure, to show and understand the transformation of space under the influence of infrastructure on a symbolic level. To achieve these goals, the following research questions were determined: How space is transformed on symbolic level under the influence of infrastructure?; How are the meanings of infrastructure inscribed in space?; What kinds of relationships exist between people and infrastructure?; How does infrastructure affect people?; How people experience and perceive infrastructure and their influences?; How people act in the context of infrastructure and its influences?; How are the meanings of infrastructure narrativised?; How are memories, feelings and affects as products of life with infrastructure practiced and circulated?; In what ways meanings of infrastructure depend on political, economic and social context? In accordance with contemporary cultural anthropological approaches and historical, political and economic context, a multiconceptual frame of spatializing culture (Low 2017) is used to achieve these goals through its concepts: social production of space, social construction of space, embodied space, discourse and language, emotion and affect, and translocality. Every infrastructural project is marked with the promises of modernization and progress, and once built, is a novel element in the space. Infrastructure is changed over time: its materiality, according to social and political perturbations, in relation to other built infrastructure, and – consequently – by the perception of those who build it, use it or live by it. The research shows that the construction of new infrastructure sometimes has negative effects on space and the community, generating inequalities. The Lujzijana road brought progress and prosperity to the settlements along its route, but over time it changed its status. In the second half of the 19th century, the reduction of traffic on the Lujzijana road was influenced by the construction of the Karlovac – Rijeka railway, so the Lujzijana road lost its value. This led to a change in the economic structure of the community that was built around the Lujzijana road. The construction of the dam on Lokvarka and the creation of accumulation lake was fatal for a part of the municipality of Lokve. People had to move out and settlements were destroyed. Although a bypass road was built as a compensation for the Lujzijana road's flooded part, the new organization of the transport system further damaged the municipality, and some parts became isolated. With the completion of the construction of the Rijeka – Zagreb highway, which took the traffic off the Lujzijana road, the Lujzijana road began to be perceived as a cultural heritage. Although the Rijeka – Zagreb highway passes through Gorski kotar, it actually bypasses the region, it acts on it as a “tunnel” (Graham and Marvin 1996) and the highway hubs as access points polarize the region (Lukić, Opačić and Zupanc 2009). Because of this, the transit tourism that was developed in the second half of 20th century around the new Lujzijana road was destroyed and emigration to urban centres outside the region continued (Knežević and Grbac Žiković 2013; Feletar 2016). Although greater use of the touristic potential of Gorski Kotar was predicted, it turned out to be completely the opposite. Thus, the Rijeka – Zagreb highway is often seen by local population as disabling factor of regional development. The affective relationship that people have with the space of the Lujzijana road and the space of the dam and the lake arises from the historical and social context, their materiality and different notions and memories. Affective relationship is expressed through language and text, and research has shown that writing and speaking about the Lujzijana road and its surroundings vary among travellers in the past, local community, and modern travellers. The local population expresses the affect associated with infrastructure through feelings, talking about it, naming, remembering, but also through movements, behaviours, practices and aspirations. Thus, the touristic activities of local associations and the population that arose from the affect reflect their own identity, which in Gorski Kotar is deeply rooted in the connection with the roads. Efforts to turn the Lujzijana road into a tourist product, as well as the lake, stems from the affective relationship of the local population towards infrastructure. The Lujzijana road, conceived as a cultural route, would enable the spread of this affect to visitors, travellers, and tourists. However, insufficient funding of tourist activities – in addition to the existing poor demographic situation and the organization of the traffic system – deepens the feeling of isolation and marginalization by the state. The area of the dam on river Lokvarka and accumulation lake has ambivalent meanings for the local population. It represents a space of nostalgia, sadness and melancholy when it comes to planned emigration, settlements that once existed there and the flooded part of the Lujzijana road. In contrast, the time of building of the dam represents joyful memories, despite hard physical work and occasional unfortunate events. Some consider that project of the dam was crucial for the exploitation the region’s hydropotential and electricity production, as a part of the modernization of the state, and that great touristic potential is gained. On the other hand, some consider that it marked the point when people started to move, that is, that marked the point when “villages began to die”. A special event in expressing but also creating an affective relationship with the dam, the lake, and their immediate surroundings was marked in 2001 when the lake was drained. The remains of houses, streams and the Lujzijana road were revealed once again. By moving through the lake bottom and through diverse practices, local population was striving to preserve social memory, both of the former settlements and of the time of the construction of the dam. Generations who were not contemporaries of those periods, used the space of the lake as an inspiration to imagine how it once was back then. The space of the Lujzijana road, the Rijeka - Zagreb highway, and the space of a vehicle, as spaces of mobility, were also explored in the context of differentiation of “places” and “nonplaces” (Augé 1995). Even though it may seem that the Lujzijana road, with its connection to identity and history, is a true “place“, highway that lacks these characteristics can be seen as a “non-place”. The same applies to driving on the highway: all highways look the same, service areas by it serve only to facilitate traffic, and the only contact with surroundings is through the window and traffic signs. By employing a strategy of “the fieldwork in the car“, this research contributes to refutation of the theory of “non-places” and needlessness of differentiation of “places” and “non-places” (Merriman 2004, 2007). Research shows that modern travelling on any road is very much the same, even though different roads can produce different meanings for different people in different times. By people's memories, practices, and experiences, as social interactions mediated through infrastructure, the space of mobility is constantly (re)shaped. Transformation of space under the influence of infrastructure on symbolic level occurs based on social, historical and political context and people's experiences, perceptions, ideas, imagination, feelings, memories, movements and practices. Symbolic meanings are inscribed into the space of infrastructure through affective relationship with it which is narrativised and circulated by speaking and writing about it, but also by the way it is done. The symbolic meanings of infrastructures are inscribed into space and circulated through people's movement and practices, as well: walking through the drained lake, commemorating past events, transmission to younger generations, touristic visit to the Lujzijana road organized by local association with the local population, activities associated with aspirations of turning infrastructure into touristic product, driving, but also stopping while travelling. Infrastructure has life-worth meanings for inhabitants of Gorski kotar – on personal level, level of community, region and state. Infrastructure in Gorski Kotar, in different places and different times was and is a life determining factor. Even though infrastructure is seen as development and progress, it changes the everyday life in complex ways. Each infrastructure has different meanings for an individual or group of people. Historical and social circumstances, the relationship of different infrastructure, and lived experience at different times generate some new meanings and constantly (re)shape the space of infrastructure. Cultural anthropological research of such complex relationships of the built environment, technology, institutions, community and individual, through diachronic and synchronic approach, is an understanding of translocal processes present in the past and present modernization projects of infrastructure construction and renovation, and those yet to be planned.