Seeking papers for a panel on "Urban Infrastructure and its Afterlife" for the Urban History Association Annual Conference 2012 to be held at New York, October 26-28, 2012. For more details on the annual meet see the website: http://uha.udayton.edu/conf.html.
350 words abstracts of paper proposals must reach me by February 28th, 2012 at the email email@example.com.
In this panel we propose to explore the centrality of logistics and infrastructure in changing urban processes and governance. Logistics and infrastructure decisively organize and produce power relations and social hierarchies within cities. Historically, logistical modes of governance can be conceived of as a grid of responses reacting both to social changes and crises. Such responses often became the norm or everyday mode of governance in a perpetually extended states of exception, as can be seen not only in modern nation-states engaged in elusively indeterminate wars, but also historically under colonial regimes. During the nineteenth century the modus operandi of colonial and sometimes the metropolitan regimes was characterized by tactics of crisis management, ranging from the classic example of the Hausmannization of Paris between 1850-70 to the heightened infrastructural development in colonial India following the revolt of 1857, to name but two prominent examples.
These tactics developed in the course of the 19th century have garnered new and yet unexplored dimensions with the inauguration of digital infrastructure which, is continually deployed to track, scan and control the populace as cities are simultaneously emerging as sites for high-tech urban counter-insurgency. Nonetheless, such infrastructural or logistical remapping of cities has never been impervious, but have always been vulnerable to perforation and infiltration through improvisation and appropriation by informal, non-official and non-professional networks of utilization. Instead of exploring the volatile circuits of use and utilization of infrastructure by such networks as a perceived failure of socio-economic development, this panel seeks to explore the richer history of cultural possibilities embedded in these patterns of use and appropriation.
Through this exploration, we seek to raise the following questions: How do various forms of mobility – human, material and technological – play a role in shaping logistical governance in controlling population, territory and security? What are the ideological underpinnings, as well as the aesthetic dimensions of logistical overhauls brought on by modern nation-states? How has the populace resisted, subverted, appropriated, and negotiated the various logistical restructuring of the cities and their infrastructural changes? How were infrastructures (material and technological) developed elsewhere vernacularized in their specific cultural contexts of deployment? Can there be a cultural history of infrastructures and their afterlives? What forms of political subjectivities, or spatial citizenships congealed around emerging infrastructural innovations? How do we understand and conceptualize the recent neo-liberal consumption of privatized and customized infrastructure, a process which ushers in new political subjectivities, while marginalizing large sections of the populace, sections whose labor and existence are increasingly rendered redundant and superfluous respectively?
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