The Politics of Infrastructure
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
What does it take to build an infrastructural system? What kind of norms do infrastructures enforce, and what kinds of people do they allow to thrive? What happens when infrastructure starts to break down, or proves inadequate in the face of disaster? What can asking questions about everyday infrastructures teach us? And what kind of world do they make possible? This class pulls back the curtain to reveal the people, processes, and values that shape the infrastructures of modern life, and how these systems simultaneously provide opportunities for, and place constraints, upon social life. Course readings will examine many kinds of infrastructural systems, including built environments, water systems, laboratory infrastructures, and public health systems. We will read canonical theorists such as James Scott, Bruno Latour, and Michel Foucault alongside more contemporary work in Science and Technology studies, including Michelle Murphy’s analysis of the evolution of “sick building syndrome,” Langdon Winner’s commentary on the “politics of technology,” and Marilyn Strathern’s critique of “audit cultures” in research professions.
This seminar offers crucial insights for everyone interested in how built environments shape our social lives, including designers, scholars, artists, city planners, engineers, entrepreneurs, and interested citizens of every stripe.
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm
June 05 — June 26, 2017