CfP: Relational Geographies of Infrastructural Violence For the International Critical Geography Conference (ICCG), Athens, 19-23 April 2019,
Deadline for submissions is 14th October (apologies for short notice)
Omar Jabary Salamanca, Ghent University
Jonathan Silver, Sheffield University
The consolidation of colonial capitalism has been historically and geographically premised upon the development of a vast infrastructure of policing, extraction and circulation. From roads, railways, telegraphs and pipes to water dams, electricity grids and telecommunication networks, these capital fixes have come to define and mediate the stratified ways we come to experience space, relate to the state, and interact with each other. Extraordinarily, this material force –which is invariably presented as modernity, development and progress— has routinely managed to supersede and disavow the violence that enables its very assemblage. We could highlight the forced, disposable labor required to build colonial railway networks; the mass displacements engendered by the construction of water dam projects; the land expropriations and community dislocations needed to rule and govern urban space and people through roads; or the ecological destruction necessary to enable a continuous, often segregated circulation of people and resources across urban, regional and global economy. Whether in the Global South or in the Global North, the infrastructure of accumulation is built, informed, operated and experienced along racialized, classed and gendered lines, it is an ordinarily violent infrastructure.
Drawing on but seeking to expand definitions of infrastructures as, “embedded instruments of power, dominance and (attempted) social control” (Graham and Marvin, 2001) we invite participants to consider but also depart from existing work within infrastructure and urban studies that has theorized infrastructural violence (Rogers and O’Neil, 2012), urbicide (Graham 2002), settler colonial dispossession (Jabary Salamanca, 2014), disconnection (Loftus, 2009), state-sanctioned violence and abandonment (Pulido, 2016) or poisoning (Ranganathan, 2016) through the lens of these socio-technical systems. What happens when we understand the violence of infrastructure as relational? How might it shift our analysis of the settler colonial violence that is made visible at Standing Rock or the purposeful targeting and bombing of the infrastructures of social reproduction in the Gaza strip and Hodeidah or water disconnections in Detroit and Johannesburg? We are interested in the relational production of infrastructural violence as a constitutive force that (re)makes contemporary and historic political economy. We might understand how for instance the deployment of public infrastructures in the Global North was predicated on colonial violence and plunder, vital to the financing of such systems or the assembling of mobile phone technologies through violent extractions of coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We welcome participants engaged in historical and contemporary work from diverse theoretical, methodological and practical orientations to think collectively about how to theorize the violence of infrastructure? What conceptual vocabularies might we use to develop relational understandings of such violence? How do we develop relational methodologies that can trace out the violent assemblages through which infrastructure is (re)made, operated and spatially distributed?
Those interested in participating in this discussion panel please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words, along with a title and your affiliation to Omar Jabary Salamanca (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jonathan Silver (email@example.com) by Sunday 14th October. The abstract should outline the research you conduct and how it relates to the violence of infrastructure; what kind of questions your research opens up in relation to how we understand the violence of infrastructure; and the type of intervention you would like to make.
Graham, S. (2002). Bulldozers and bombs: the latest Palestinian–Israeli conflict as asymmetric urbicide. Antipode, 34(4), 642-649.
Graham, S., & Marvin, S. (2001). Splintering Urbanism: networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition Routledge, London
Jabary Salamanca, O. (2014). Road 443: cementing dispossession, normalizing segregation and disrupting everyday life in Palestine. In Graham, S., & McFarlane, C. (Eds.). (2014). Infrastructural lives: Urban infrastructure in context. Routledge. London (pp. 128-150)
Loftus, A. (2006). Reification and the dictatorship of the water meter. Antipode, 38(5), 1023-1045.
Pulido, L. (2016). Flint, Environmental Racism, and Racial Capitalism, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 27:3, 1-16
Ranganathan, M. (2016). Thinking with Flint: Racial liberalism and the roots of an American water tragedy. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 27(3), 17-33.
Rodgers, D., & O’Neill, B. (2012). Infrastructural violence: Introduction to the special issue. Ethnography, 13(4), 401-412.
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