Call for Papers for the international conference: CULTURE, INFRASTRUCTURE, MOBILITY

Sofia, 09–11 October 2023

The history of modern technological infrastructure spans over two centuries and includes heterogeneous phenomena: from railroads, sewerage and water pipes, to telecommunications and digital networks. Its construction resembles a techno-world where modern humans live free from the natural constraints of their existence. This is an environment with very different possibilities, problems, freedoms and dependencies. Large infrastructure projects have a decisive influence on social, economic, technical, societal and administrative processes in modern societies. They shape the relations between sedentariness and mobility, define the rhythms and styles of life, consciousness, self-esteem and identity of individuals and groups.

The development of infrastructures has a key relationship to historical change. Infrastructure projects depend on cultural conditions for their emergence, but they also have important consequences for cultural change. They are an instrument for domination and homogenization of territories, for interaction between anonymous individuals, and for the integration of social groups. Transportation and communication infrastructures transform “imagined modern communities” into a new social and techno-cultural reality. They have a strong integrative but also disintegrative function, contributing to the homogenization of populations, making them technological carriers of power ideologies: Eurocentric, colonial or nationalist.Finally, infrastructure projects have their own history: almost two hundred years of development. The progressivist ideology with which they have traditionally been associated has been criticized and reconsidered. But development has not come to a halt, techno- optimism has not disappeared. New, even more far-reaching infrastructure projects are taking the place of the old ones. The role of digital communication, the Internet galaxy and social networks for the integration and disintegration of late modern society is not yet explored: they offer new possibilities but perhaps also unimagined dangers.

We aim to explore the following topics:

  • Infrastructures, mobility, migrations: technological nomads, migration flows and “landscapes”, transnational hybrids and technology driven melanges.
  • Infrastructures, communication and geopolitics: colonization, decolonization, post- colonization, self-colonization, and their cultural impacts.
  • Infrastructures as instruments of social engineering and everyday governance.
  • Regulations and resistance in new digital mobility services: capital flows and power constellations.
  • Standardization, normalization, and homogenization: leveling of inequalities oremergence of new social inequalities and cultural asymmetries?
  • Public transport: mobility services in the face of new technologies and modernization policies; circuits of knowledge production, contested norms and notions of modernity.
  • Transformation of infrastructures and the cultural history of cities: centers andperipheries, urban spaces, territories and imagination.
  • Historical evolution of infrastructures and evolving social and cultural competencies for their use.
  • Forms of infrastructure – forms of cultural imagination: changing concepts, rhetoricsand “aesthetics” of infrastructure (images of the machine; images of progress from secession to geometrism, constructivism and minimalism; retro aesthetics).
  • Infrastructure, acceleration, cultural impact. Accelerating infrastructures and their psycho-cultural impact on the individual. Decaying infrastructures, infrastructural disasters, and apocalyptic visions.

 Please send a 250-word abstract and a 50-word bio to L_Pozharliev@leibniz-ifl.de and jdamianova@gmail.com no later than 20 June 2023.

The conference is free of charge. Graduates, doctoral students and participants with financial difficulties whose submissions have been accepted may apply for travel grants of up to € 250 (in the form of reimbursement). A limited number of grants are available and will be given on an individual basis. Applications should detail the cost of travel and the amount applied for in an email to l_pozharliev@leibniz-ifl.de.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Prof. Dr. Dirk van Laak, Chair at the Institute for 19th to 21st Century History, University of Leipzig
  • Prof. Dr. Arnold Bartezky, Head of the Department of Culture and Imagination, Coordinator of Art History at the Leibniz Institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig
  • Dr. Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde. Coordinator of the Research GroupMobilities and Migration and Head of the Leibniz Junior Research Group “CoMoDe”, Leipzig

Organising committee:

Dr. Lyubomir Pozharliev, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde Postdoctoral researcher, member of the research group II of the Leibniz Science Campus “Eastern Europe – Global Area” (EEGA), Leipzig
Prof. Alexander Kiossev, Head of the Cultural Centre at Sofia University
Prof. Daniela Koleva, Department of History and Theory of Culture, Sofia University
Dr. Zhana Damyanova, Maison des sciences de l’homme et de la société, Sofia


4th CASNiG Annual Conference 23-24 November 2023 at the IfL / Invitation and Call for Papers

The fourth annual CASNiG conference, organised by the CoMoDe research group and the Central Asian Studies Network in Germany, will take place in Leipzig, featuring a bright focus on the wide and multifaceted field of mobilities and the emerging global interconnectedness.

Mobility of people, goods, and ideas has been a central feature of research in and on Central Asia – from nomadic societies to post-independence labour migration; from the spread of Islamic religious practices to large infrastructure-led modernisation and connectivity projects, most notably under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union have deeply shaped the region’s mobility infrastructures and paradigms, as did the post-Soviet period of regional disintegration and economic constraints, as well as recent globalised, financialised and extractivist large-scale development-through-infrastructures endeavours.

For the upcoming conference, we conceive spatial mobility in its broadest terms, and include the multilayered and multiscalar, contemporary and historical mobility of people, goods, concepts, value(s), practices, information and data. Everyday movements, commuting, in- and outmigration, access to and negotiations of mobility regimes, infrastructures which enable or preclude mobility, and biographical approaches to migration decisions are all crucial aspects of what dynamically shapes Central Asian societies, and their interconnectedness within the world. We further address the interdependencies of mobilities and power relations, e.g. with regard to questions of justice, but also the interplay of mobility and socio-spatial processes of inclusion and exclusion, socially embedded norms and gender-specific social practices.


We welcome topics related – but not limited – to the following ones:

  • Mobility infrastructures and modernity discourses;
  • Physical and social memories of former systems of connectedness, and the emergence of new ones;
  • Modes and forms of production of mobility knowledge;
  • Mobility policies, solidarities, negotiations, resistances;
  • Mobility history, global(ising) transformation processes (and inequalities)
  • Interconnectedness of spatial and social mobility
  • Everyday mobility practices;
  • Methodological and epistemological considerations in researching mobilities, and mobile research


Participation in the conference is free of charge. A small contribution to cover catering expenses may be required. The organisers will strive to secure (limited) travel grants and accommodation support.

Please feel welcome to propose scholarly articles and pre-organised sessions, themed workshops, as well as artistic and practice-oriented contributions. We warmly welcome the participation of early career researchers, and will provide space for counselling and networking. We aim to produce a peer-reviewed special issue/edited volume from this conference.

The deadline for submissions of abstracts is 30 June 2023.

Please send the following details as a single PDF file to Stella Marie Köhler (m_koehler(at)leibniz-ifl.de), whom you can also address for all further inquiries related to the conference.

  •  Title;
  •  Abstract of your contribution (max. 250 words);
  •  Brief bio (max. 250 words);
  •  Contact information (name, affiliation, email address);
  •  Expression of interest in co-editing a follow-up publication.

Full draft conference papers should be submitted by 20 October 2023, at the latest.

Priority will be given to an on-site event in Leipzig, to facilitate post-pandemic exchange and network building. Hybrid options shall be evaluated in case of possible travel restrictions. The working language of the conference is English. Please approach us if you would like to hold your presentation in another language.


Wladimir Sgibnev | W_Sgibnev(at)leibniz-ifl.de
Stella Marie Köhler | m_koehler(at)leibniz-ifl.de


Knowledge Production in Public Transport: Georgian Symposium of the CoMoDe group

During the third weekend of March 2023, the team of the IfL project Contentious mobilities through a decolonial lens (CoMoDe) hosted – jointly with the Ilia State University – a Symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia. The name of the event was “Knowledge Production in Public Transport – Normativities. Actors. Outcomes”. Since Lela Rekhviashvili, a postdoctoral researcher within CoMoDe, had been studying the public transport reform in Tbilisi, her expertise in the field shaped the conceptual framework of the symposium. Furthermore, a former employee of the Tbilisi city hall – Elene Khundzadze – who was a fellowship-holder at IfL – amply contributed with to the conceptual and organisational preparation of the event.