INFRA+ Infrastructure for Fragmented Cities: Violations

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How can infrastructure improve life in fragmented cities, now and in the future?

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  • Prof Swati Chattopadhyay, University of California, Santa Barbara (bio)
  • Dr Deljana Iossifova, University of Manchester (bio)
  • Dr Yaffa Truelove, University of Colorado at Boulder (bio)

Chair: Dr Fadi Shayya (bio)


Prof Swati Chattopadhyay

Infrastructure as violence, insurgency as infrastructure: notes on the biospatial

Dr Deljana Iossifova

Infrastructuring the city: trajectories of violence

This talk suggests the notion of infrastructuring as the transformative agency of complex infrastructural formations that shape urban form, everyday life and longer-term development trajectories. Infrastructures are here understood as the structures intentionally or unintentionally created to sustain or ameliorate human life. They comprise humans and their agency, various kinds of resources, material objects, and ecological systems at different scales. Such complex infrastructural formations act to visibly or invisibly structure the city through human-infrastructure interactions. Infrastructuring necessarily leads to changes in patterns of everyday life and alter, by implication, social relations and human-environment relationships. Infrastructuring transforms future trajectories in altering patterns of resource extraction and use. In this way, infrastructuring produces and reproduces social and environmental injustices in the short and long term. It inflicts violence that limits the life chances of marginalized social groups today in withholding infrastructure; at the same time, it limits the life chances of all humans in the future in propagating wasteful and unsustainable infrastructure.

Dr Yaffa Truelove

Situating Infrastructural Violence: Bodies, intersectionality, and slow violence in urban India

Through examining fragmented water and sanitation infrastructures in two Indian cities (Indore and Delhi), I interrogate the relationship between the body, everyday infrastructures and violence. First, drawing from Rodgers and O’Neill’s (2012) conceptualization of ‘infrastructural violence,’ I show how experiences of infrastructural violence in Delhi and Indore are situated and co-produced through differing forms of intersectionality. I argue that a situated analysis of infrastructural violence brings attention to the ways that the decay, maintenance, and repair of infrastructures are tied to embodied and affective harm. Second, I examine how gendered bodies act as infrastructure in relation to piecing together fragmented networks. Approaching the body as infrastructure helps reveal how “slow infrastructural violence” accrues through patterns of infrastructural invisibility. I conclude by reflecting on how bringing an embodied and intersectional approach to the violence of infrastructures reveals critical dimensions of urban inequality as well as sites and spaces for progressive change.

INFRA+ Rationale

How can infrastructure be chosen, planned, designed, implemented, maintained, enhanced and used to improve human well-being in formal and informal urban areas?

The sustained functioning of infrastructural systems has multiple positive effects on human health and wellbeing. Infrastructure is therefore central to the UN Sustainable Development agenda, featuring in and contributing to most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; Goals 1, 3, 5-14 among others).

The lack of access to sanitation, water, transport, energy or communication infrastructure can curtail sustainable development and entrench existing or create new social inequality dynamics, for instance in further stigmatising the urban poor.

The INFRA+ webinar series aims to identify links between context-specific infrastructural challenges, approaches to their solution and universal mechanisms towards improved sustainability.

Speakers from across academia and practice with focus on East and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East present their unique disciplinary perspectives and propose transdisciplinary directions for future research.

Check out all INFRA+ webinars here.

Cover image by allenmii from Pixabay.

This webinar series is funded through the University of Manchester Global Challenges Research Fund.

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