Life and death in a place-non-place
(University of Newcastle)
Paper short abstract:
Driving the M3 free/tollway in Melbourne registers both Marc Augé's and Peter Merriman's places of automobility. This paper presents two temporal, urban interventions. The first concerns nature as life and the second the permissibility of commemorative memorials of a death that may also dwell.
Paper long abstract:
Peter Merriman argues that the processes of consultation, design, construction and ultimate use of a motorway create a place from automobility. Marc Augé identifies this infrastructure for the rapid movement of goods and people as being a place devoid of history, relations or identity: a non-place where the anthropology is that of us as the other. The publicly built, owned and managed Eastern Freeway (F19) was constructed in four stages over 25 years (1971-1996) and traverses 18 kilometres of Melbourne's eastern suburbs. It is a piece of modernist road engineering and design that was the site of the most violent and protracted urban battle in Melbourne's history. The Eastlink Tollway is the privatized extension of the F19. It was constructed in multiple sections simultaneously over 4 years (2002-2006). Its structure is of postmodern design and described as a 39-kilometre artwork. The union of these two roads was the site of protest resulting in a tunnel to conserve natural habitat. The public F19 and the private Eastlink share the name M3 but each retains their respective caricature of place and non-place in design and use. Driving time in this space (2006 - 2014) served as a longitudinal and experiential site assessment to create two sets of temporal interventions in the M3 as place-non-place. The first is based in nature (waterways and flora) as a life that dwells in this landscape. The second concerns the permissibility of commemorative roadside memorials as signifying a death that may also dwell in this place.
A new anthropology of automobility