Author:Amiel Bize (Universität Bayreuth)
Paper short abstract:
My paper is about a truck stop on the A104 highway in Kenya, and the truckers and traders who deal in illicit commodities there. I examine the moral frameworks around illicit trade and consider the truck stop as a site that facilitates and constrains the interaction between highway and hinterland.
Paper long abstract:
This paper is about activities that some consider theft, as they appear in a truck stop called Karaar. The practices I describe—dealing in fuel extracted from the tanks of passing trucks, and trading in goods spilled onto the highway by crashed lorries—take advantage of Karaar's position along East Africa's main commodity transport corridor, the A104 highway. Karaar is also known as a "black spot," a site where accidents happen with unusual frequency, and many people attribute these accidents to the desire of truckers and Karaar-based brokers to profit illicitly off the commodities that travel along the highway.
The truck stop attracts entrepreneurs from nearby rural areas, who are drawn by truckers' spending money and the possibilities for trade—both licit and illicit. These rural entrepreneurs also mediate between truckers and the "hinterland"—the vast expanse of rural space defined by and against the "foreland" space of the highway—which serves as a market for illicit commodities and a source of labor for the truck stop. In this paper I examine the truck stop's notoriety and the way it is linked both to its accidents and to the illicit trades that mediate between the infrastructure of the trade route and rural populations who wish to access some of its bounty.
Roads, routes and the Terra Infirma: distance and place making through the lens of dwelling-in-travelling