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Borders and Go-Betweens

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Bulgarian International Truck Drivers during the Cold War

This chapter aims at discussing the socialist international truck drivers during the Cold War as a liminal group, stemming from two basic considerations: The first one is that roads and borders, which constitute the essence of the international truck drivers’ identity, practices and status, should be considered as classical liminal spaces; and the second is that the notion of liminality should be used as an independent analytical concept, not directly related to the ritual context. Drawing on state archival documents and interviews with former Bulgarian international truck drivers, the chapter conceptualizes the road system as a liminal space, then outlines the Bulgarian policies and practices governing border activity during the Cold War, within which Bulgarian international truck drivers emerged as a group. Further, the truckers are presented as crossing state and ideological borders, as oscillating between different official and non-official practices related to the ambivalent characteristics of Cold War relations, as possessing boundary and thus contradicting identities, and as existing in between different social statuses. This analysis of the liminal status and activities of the truck drivers allows for the grasping of the ambivalence of the Cold War as simultaneously a global conflict and an everyday experience, as a time of seclusion and intensive contacts, and allows us to look at the Cold War processes not just from below, from the standpoint of people of a lower-class position, such as the truckers, but from inside—from the interstitial space of the transnational road network, which both epitomized the ambivalence of the Cold War, but also was shaped by it.

Affiliations: 1: Eindhoven Technological University, Plovdiv University,


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