ZKF-Arbeitsgespräche im Sommersemester 23

Enduring Infrastructure


Vortragende Person:

Prof. Caroline Levine, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

Prof. Dr. Kirsten Mahlke

In Kooperation mit der Clusterinitiative „Transforming Infrastructure“

When the term infrastructure was first coined in the twentieth century, it referred to modern network forms—waterways, roads, bridges, trading routes, railroads, street lighting, sewers, mass transit, telephone systems, and electrical grids. Unveiled as gleaming symbols of progress, they have often concealed violence and inequality. For good reason, then, scholars have associated infrastructures generally with modern capitalism and colonial states, sometimes even considering them “co-constitutive with modernity.” Yet, if we focus exclusively on modern infrastructures, we also overlook the shaping power of old pathways on later social worlds – their capacity for endurance across long periods. This talk will make the case that infrastructures, far from modern impositions, are necessary to collective survival across contexts. But some infrastructural forms – like Amazigh and Pueblo water infrastructures – afford more egalitarian versions of collective life than their “modern” counterparts. This talk will put forward a theory of enduring infrastructural forms for collective flourishing. What allows infrastructures to last? Do infrastructures that were built long ago but are still shaping us now belong to the past, or to the present? And how should we address the politics of infrastructures that survive across contexts, continuing to shape social life long after the end of the powerful groups that created them? 

Datum: 2023-04-27