Paper long abstract:
After centuries-old attempts at achieving smoother, faster road surfaces, a recent trend has been the introduction of speed-reducing devices. This is one of the functions of roundabouts, relative newcomers in road-building history. Now dotting European roads, these focal points are frequently used as a support for staged presentations of the local natural or cultural heritage, or for public art display. An ethnography of the massive introduction of roundabouts in France and Portugal in the last 20 years leads to considerations on how they inscribe on the landscape a specific conception of displacement, and on how they express and are shaped by a certain type of relation to the environment. It is also a roundabout way to stress how, in the practices prompted by a trivial object, socio-economic and cultural features interact with strict technical constraints.
Thinking about roads, movement, and environment