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The Power of Imagination: The Long History of Not (Yet?) Crossing the Bering Strait by Train

Mon, November 25, 1:45 to 3:30pm, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Floor: LB2, Salon 5


For more than 100 years, various social actors have floated plans for a tunnel or bridge across the Bering Strait, yet neither has been realized, and the chances that either project will be realized in the foreseeable future are minimal. This paper poses the question why building a bridge or tunnel across the 80-km wide maritime passage connecting Eurasia and the Americas continues to spur the imagination of politicians, business men and residents alike, and why – on the other hand – these grand plans never have been realized. Using perspectives building on infrastructure studies, material histories, and affective theory, the paper argues for taking seriously the agency of non-realized megaprojects, that is the promises and fears attached to (not yet) built environments and infrastructures, without forgetting about the constraints provided by ecological conditions, consumer demand and political frameworks.