Weird Exoskeletons: Propositional politics and the infrastructure of home in underground Bucharest

Authors: Michele Lancione*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, East Europe
Keywords: Infrastructure, Homelessness, Bucharest, Ethnography, Politics, Home
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper explores the politics of life underground in Bucharest, Romania, and its capacity to invent a home within an infrastructure, and overall socio-technical conditions, which for the many are a matter of uninhabitability (Amin, 2014; Simone, 2018). The paper focuses on a canal passing under Bucharest’s central train station, where a community of drug users and homeless people established its home for years. Relying on extensive ethnographic observations, photo-taking, and interviews undertaken within the premises of one of Bucharest’s underground canals, the paper traces and illustrates the socio-material entanglements characterizing life underground. This is an assemblage of bodies, veins, syringes, substances, and various relationships of power and affect, which speaks of drug addiction and extreme marginalization but also of a sense of belonging, reciprocal trustiness, and care (Lancione, 2016). The goal of this work is to trace the emergence of the infrastructure of ‘home’ in the abnormal conditions of life in the tunnels of Gara de Nord and to highlight what that meant in terms of urban politics. The paper contributes to debates around homing practices at the margins of the urban (Brickell et al, 2017; Veness, 1993), and it promotes a deeper understanding of the propositional politics emerging from the assemblage of life underground in Bucharest.

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