Call for papers! Trade, transit and travel: knots of global capital in passageways and buffer-zones

Transit, Trade and Travel's one-day Symposium will be held on 11 May 2020 at University of Helsinki, Finland. Call for papers now open.

Transit, Trade and Travel (TTT) is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland which focusses on transit zones and crossroads areas of the Mediterranean. We concentrate on places that can be seen as spaces-in-between, temporal and spatial “knots” that exist within and between different chains of global circulation. We are interested in producing ethnographic insights onto how different ‘locating regimes’ (from bureaucratic techniques and regulations to financial institutions, from language to religious structures, from agricultural practices to transport infrastructure and digital technologies) contribute to produce or mitigate spatio-temporal frictions and ‘tensions’ in these kinds of cross-road spaces. Often located near a border or a passageway, zones of transit, trade and travel constitute particularly fertile ground to explore tensions between different locating regimes and how they generate meaning and value in these particular zones.

This one-day symposium aims to open up this discussion to geographical regions within and beyond the Mediterranean, and to create a forum where researchers across the world working on other areas broadly associated with notions of crossroads, passageways and buffer zones can meet and share ideas. We are interested in papers in anthropology and cognate disciplines that explore, from an ethnographic and theoretical perspective, how the in-betweenness of these areas shapes and is shaped by experiences and practices of trade, transit and travel, both on the macro-scale (e.g. export processing zones, free ports and other trade hubs) and on the micro-scale (e.g. street markets, bazaars, etc). We are interested in the logistics and logics by which these places operate, but also in the experiences, activities, and histories of those who inhabit them and bring them to life.

Some of the questions we wish to address during the conference are:

  1. What infrastructures, beliefs, historical and geopolitical narratives contribute towards constituting particular areas as passageways/buffer-zones/spaces-in-between?
  2. What particular mechanisms regulate practices of trade, transit and travel in areas defined or experienced as cross-roads/buffer-zones/spaces-in-between?
  3. What happens when places recognised as connecting hubs, cross-roads or buffer zones come to lose such status and how does that affect the activities and experiences of those who inhabit these places?
  4. How do places that were not previously recognised as connecting hubs, cross-roads or buffer zones come to acquire such status and what does that mean to the activities and experiences of those who inhabit these places?
  5. What processes, tensions and contradictions are rendered visible as these places become more or less (dis)connected from other places in the world?

To submit your application please send a single PDF file containing a 300 word abstract, a short bio, and your contact details to

The deadline for submissions is 16 December 2019!

We welcome submissions from early career scholars and graduate students.

For questions or further information, please contact Patricia Scalco ( or Laia Soto Bermant (