Infrastructural networks (water systems, sewerage, electricity, roadways, telecommunications, and the like) are constitutive features of metropolitan life. Infrastructure largely goes unnoticed until it breaks down or is no long capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed. This course focuses on the social life of infrastructure. The basic premise is that infrastructure refers not only to the physical elements from which it is constructed and the purpose it serves, but also to the meanings and ideologies it conveys.
In cities around the world, large numbers of urban residents lack access to basic infrastructure and services. Many city dwellers in so-called (and mis-named) ‘Third World’ countries do not have regular access to such basic amenities as piped water, sanitary toilet facilities, electricity, sewerage, paved roads, and policing). In the United States, urban infrastructures often break down, sometimes with disastrous consequences (Katrina and New Orleans, or the slow strangulation of Detroit, for example).
Thurs, 6:00-9:00pm 2213 A&AB