Everyday Infrastructure and the City
One-day workshop at Department of Geography, Durham University
Thursday May 5th, 2011
Organized by Renu Desai (Durham), Colin McFarlane (Durham), and Steve Graham (Newcastle)
Call for Papers
While urban infrastructure has become a focus of debates on urban change, there have been relatively few attempts to examine the politics of infrastructures on an everyday basis. Recent years have seen a wide and diverse range of contributions that have demonstrated the centrality of infrastructures to a variety of urban processes and forms: for example, in the social relations of inequality in the city; in the making and unmaking of social collectives and urban life; in the emergence and consumption of privatised and customised infrastructures; in the relationship between urban ecologies and social differentiation; as a site of capitalist expansion and transformation; or in the presence and removal of infrastructure through urban demolition or militarization (e.g. Coutard, 2008; Coward, 2008; Kaika, 2005; Gandy, 2005; Graham, 2010; Graham and Marvin, 2001; Hodson and Marvin, 2009; Page, 2005; Shove et al, 2007; Swyngedouw, 2004; Thrift and French, 2002; Young and Keil, 2009). Across this multifaceted and critical set of debates, there has been relatively little explicit consideration of how a focus on the everyday might inform our conception of urban infrastructures and their role in urban production, negotiation and contestation.
This workshop will bring together empirical and theoretical accounts that engage with the everyday production, negotiation, improvisation, contestation and life of urban infrastructures. It will examine how the geographies and temporalities that constitute the everyday feature in the production and reproduction of urban social relations. The everyday is both a key domain through which practices are regulated and normalized as well as an arena for negotiation, resistance and potential for difference and newness. Possible themes might include but are not delimited to:
• Everyday materialities of urban infrastructure: How are urban infrastructures produced, assembled, disrupted, repaired, improvised through everyday practices? How does this materiality of urban infrastructure become enrolled in reproducing and/or challenging particular power relations over time?
• Micro-politics of urban infrastructure: How do everyday practices regulate, control, contest and negotiate access to urban infrastructures? How are uneven power relations implicated in the micro-politics of infrastructure, and under what conditions do those politics change through time?
• Urban infrastructure and experience: How are people’s everyday experiences shaped by urban infrastructures and how do those experiences alter? What are the implications of these experiences for work, livelihood, health, education, etc? How do social norms shape people’s practices, people’s perceptions and social relationships around urban infrastructure? How are moral economies of infrastructure produced and contested over time?
• Resistance and alterity: How do forms of urban resistance emerge through everyday encounters with infrastructure? How do alternatives emerge that might reformulate the nature of urban infrastructure?
We welcome papers that explore these questions with regard to any urban infrastructure - from water, sanitation, and electricity, to transport, digital and militarised infrastructures – and we welcome contributions from diverse disciplinary perspectives. The workshop is funded through an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project on the experience and politics of urban sanitation and water infrastructures in Mumbai.
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words by February 4th to the organizers: Renu Desai (firstname.lastname@example.org), Colin McFarlane (email@example.com), and Steve Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Coutard, O. (2008) ‘Placing splintering urbanism: Introduction’. Geoforum, 1815-1820.
Coward, M. (2008) Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction. London: Routledge.
Gandy, M. (2005) Cyborg urbanization: complexity and monstrosity in the contemporary city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29.1, 26-49.
Graham, S. (2010) Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism. London: Verso.
Graham, S. and Marvin, S. (2001) Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition. London: Routledge.
Hodson, M. and Marvin, S. (2009) ‘’Urban Ecological Security’: A New Urban Paradigm?’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33:1, 193-215.
Kaika, M. (2005) City of Flows: Modernity, Nature and the City. London: Routledge.
Page, B. (2005). Paying for water and the geography of commodities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30(3), 293-306
Shove, E. Watson, M., Hand M., and Ingram, J. (2007) The Design of Everyday Life. Berg: Oxford.
Swyngedouw, E. (2004) Social Power and the Urbanization of Water: Flows of Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thrift, N. and French, S. (2002) The automatic production of space. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 27: 309-335.
Young, D. and Keil, R. (2010) ‘Reconnecting the disconnected: the politics of infrastructure in the in-between city’. Cities, 27:2, 87-95.
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