Civic Matter: Infrastructure as Politic 2013-2014

CRASSH Faculty Research Group: ‘Civic Matter: Infrastructure as Politic’

Organized by Henrietta Moore, David Dunne, Wenzel Geissler, Ruth J.
Prince, Christos Lynteris, Noemi Tousignant, Rohan Deb Roy and Branwyn Poleykett

Taking infrastructure in a narrow material sense, this faculty
research group thinks broadly about the social, ethical and political
work of infrastructural design, (re)construction and maintenance, and
the ways in which anticipated and obsolete infrastructures are
imagined, remembered, destroyed, recycled or eschewed.  Our central
aim is to explore the past and potential of infrastructure as a civic
project. By drawing on the expertise of Cambridge scholars and guest
speakers from a range of disciplines –from architecture to archeology,
geography to history—we discuss the forms of labour and
imagination that materialize past and future polities, and identify
the threats posed by neglect, exclusion, dysfunction and privatisation
to this project, and the material effects –from immobility to toxic
exposure—that infrastructural disenfranchisement might produce.

Infrastructure, it is said, is invisible until it breaks down.  Maybe
more accurately, infrastructure is topical when it overflows the
present; when destruction, disrepair or regime change make cables and
pipes things of the past, or when the design of boulevards or dreams
of electrification augur new destinies. As memory, history or
futurity, infrastructure provokes reflection and debate on the ethos
of utilities, communication, circulation and disposal. What kinds of
collectives might sewers and subways bind? Should civic, market or
paternalistic relations guide the shape, size and flow of
infrastructural networks? How have metropolitan, national, imperial
and cosmopolitan visions been materialized as railways and
telecommunications? How do collapsing bridges and mismatched gauges
expose political, technological and ethical failures, as well as the
forms of long-term planning, care and repair required by socialism,
welfare, capitalism or democracy? What political claims have
infrastructural interruption and renovation evoked?

Luxury Infrastructure and Socialism
09 October 2013, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Owen Hatherley (Writer and Journalist) at Civic Matter
The Gift, Art’s Infrastructure
23 October 2013, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (Cambridge) at Civic Matter
Camps as Infrastructure: Perspectives
06 November 2013, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Irit Katz Feigis (Cambridge), Silvia Pasquetti (Cambridge) at Civic Matter
Roundtable on Scientific Infrastructure in Africa
20 November 2013, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Roundtable
Animated Space
04 December 2013, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Ash Amin & Filip de Boeck in Conversation, at Civic Matter
Infrastructural Visibility: The Political Performance of Transport in Contemporary Mumbai
15 January 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Andrew Harris (UCL) at Civic Matter
Infrastructures of Resource Economy in (sub-)Arctic Russia
29 January 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Tatiana Safonova & Istvan Santha (Cambridge), Rémy Rouillard (Cambridge) at Civic Matter
The Makeshift City: Radical Infrastructure and the Politics of Squatting in Berlin
12 February 2014, CRASSH, Seminar room S1, First floor*
Alex Vasudevan (Nottingham) at Civic Matter
Planned Violence: Performing and Resisting Urban Infrastructures in London and Johannesburg
26 February 2014, CRASSH, Seminar room S1, First floor* (NB change room)
Prof Elleke Boehmer and Dominic Davies (Oxford University) at Civic Matter
Looping Time and Thick Data in a Cholera Research Field Site in Bangladesh
12 March 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2, Ground floor
Michelle Murphy (Toronto) at Civic Matter
Infrastructures of Exposure: Toxicity, Temporality and Political Economies in Africa
13 March 2014, Darwin College and CRASSH
Workshop at Civic Matter. Limited places
Mostra d’Oltramare: Recuperating Mussolini’s Show Case
23 April 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2
Marcial Echenique (Cambridge) at Civic Matter
Taking Infrastructure to its Geographical Extreme
07 May 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2
Michael Bravo (Cambridge) at Civic Matter
Mobilizing Development Narrative in South Korea, 1956-1973
21 May 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2
John DiMoia (Singapore) at Civic Matter
Ruins of Utopia: Ponty to the University of the African Future”
04 June 2014, CRASSH Seminar room SG2
Ferdinand De Jong (East Anglia), Brian Quinn (UCLA) at Civic Matter