Infrastructure: Mitigate, Sustain or Vacate?
Please consider submitting your abstract to this panel at 4S in New Orleans on September 4-7 2019.
Brit Ross Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen
Anne Beaulieu, University of Groningen
STS and Anthropology have explored infrastructures empirically, theoretically, and conceptually for several decades now, but what, if anything, comes after infrastructure? The times where the internet was considered a space of flows have certainly come to an end, current developments in Europe make many kinds of borders visible, and there certainly are new obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and exchange of thought. Even the diversity of infrastructural forms seems to be diminishing, leading to more uniform set of shared interfaces and platforms. Infrastructure studies have focused attention on how people, things and knowledge circulate, and on the transformations that happen as they do. Infrastructure studies have coined invisible work, installed base, ontological experiment and described blockages to flow. Thus, infrastructure studies are about circulation, formalization, scaling up and flow as well as transformation and obstacles. As such it is a rich tradition that speaks to a host of empirical fields. But given that almost anything can now count as infrastructure, has the concept lost some of its precision? In this panel we will discuss this question and think about what might be the limits to and enduring potential of the concept of infrastructure to speaks to empirical, theoretical and political challenges of today.