ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Seeing through Infrastructure

The Promise of Infrastructure edited by Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta and Hannah Appel, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2018; pp 264, 1,984


The Promise of Infrastructure is an important intellectual intervention. It brings together a coherent and substantive discussion among scholars who have been influential in debates on the infrastructural turn in North American anthropology. It brings critical engagement with the framework (infrastructure) through an innovative ethnographic method.

Two aspects of the infrastructural turn in academia are significant—one, a shift in the nature of the object that is studied, and two, the promise of a new theoretical framework or vantage point that produces better understanding of society. The object of ethnography here is a network or a system, rather than a single development project or community. These essays make a strong case for this as the intimate gaze on infrastructures as experienced in marginal social locations illuminates spatial and temporal connections and lived experiences. The introduction sets up a nuanced engagement with infrastructure as an analytic as much as an object of ethnography. It draws from diverse and multiple theoretical lineages and offers a promising critical review of the potential of infrastructure. Infrastructure in anthropology has been wedded to three popular theoretical traditions—biopolitics, science and technology studies and techno-politics (as an earlier review essay by Larkin [2013] recognises), and the ethnographic essays in this book broadly follow this pattern.

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Updated On : 29th Nov, 2019
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