Assemblages of mobility: the marshrutkas of Central Asia

 Central Asian Survey

Volume 35, Issue 2, 2016

Special Issue:   Urban spaces and lifestyles in Central Asia and beyond

Wladimir Sgibnev & Andrey Vozyanov


This article addresses reconfigurations of urban space in Central Asia through the lens of marshrutka mobility. Marshrutka-based transport is – together with the bazaar trade – a major sector of Central Asian economy. Although precise data are not available, estimates propose that one family in ten gains its income through it. In spite of its economic and social importance, there has barely been any research on marshrutka mobility so far. The marshrutka mobility phenomenon appears at once wide-ranging and elusive. In order to grasp its complexity, we propose a theory framework based on John Law’s concept of fluidity and assemblage. Providing empirical insights from Khujand, in northern Tajikistan, the article addresses marshrutka mobility from a local perspective, notably with regard to regulatory processes of marshrutka-based transport. It also covers the trans-local perspective, with particular attention to global flows of ideas, vehicles, and people.