The Road Not Taken: Enabling and Limiting Mobility in the Eastern Pamirs

  • Till Mostowlansky (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Based on fieldwork conducted between 2008 and 2011, this article explores the role of roads in enabling and limiting the movement of people and goods in Tajikistan’s Eastern Pamirs. The article focuses on the Pamir Highway and a newly established trade route linking Tajikistan with China. Besides materially facilitating mobility, both roads serve as trajectories for opportunities, but often also signify the lack of such to those who live along them. This article thus seeks to analyse the shifting roles of roads against the backdrop of past and present state dispensations, shifting ideologies and newly emerging economic practices. By emphasising roads as both enabling and limiting spatial entities shaped by materiality, politics and economics, this article argues, on the one hand, that roads are important factors in directing and accelerating the mobility of people and goods and, on the other, that roads are also symbols of immobility inasmuch as they set limitations on the movement of people.