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The Promise of Infrastructure

Edited by Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel

From U.S.-Mexico border walls to Flint’s poisoned pipes, there is a new urgency to the politics of infrastructure. Roads, electricity lines, water pipes, and oil installations promise to distribute the resources necessary for everyday life. Yet an attention to their ongoing processes also reveals how infrastructures are made with fragile and often violent relations among people, materials, and institutions. While infrastructures promise modernity and development, their breakdowns and absences reveal the underbelly of progress, liberal equality, and economic growth. This tension, between aspiration and failure, makes infrastructure a productive location for social theory. Contributing to the everyday lives of infrastructure across four continents, some of the leading anthropologists of infrastructure demonstrate in The Promise of Infrastructure how these more-than-human assemblages made over more-than-human lifetimes offer new opportunities to theorize time, politics, and promise in the contemporary moment.

This book is available for purchase at Duke University Press.

2018. 264 pp., 16 illustrations, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Dominic Boyer, Akhil Gupta, Penny Harvey, Brian Larkin, Christina Schwenkel, Antina von Schnitzler

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Introduction: Temporality, Politics, and the Promise of Infrastructure / Hannah Appel, Nikhil Anand, and Akhil Gupta

Part I. Time
1. Infrastructural Time / Hannah Appel
2. The Future in Ruins: Thoughts on the Temporality of Infrastructure / Akhil Gupta
3. Infrastructures in and out of Time: The Promise of Roads in Contemporary Peru / Penny Harvey
4. The Current Never Stops: Intimacies of Energy Infrastructure in Vietnam / Christina Schwenkel

Part II. Politics
5. Infrastructure, Apartheid Technopolitics, and Temporalities of “Transition” / Antina von Schnitzler
6. A Public Matter: Water, Hydraulics, Biopolitics / Nikhil Anand Part III
7. Promising Forms: The Political Aesthetics of Infrastructure / Brian Larkin
8. Sustainable Knowledge Infrastructures / Geoffrey C. Bowker
9. Infrastructure, Potential Energy, Revolution / Dominic Boyer


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