Call for Papers
Infrastructure and/as Ethics
Annual Meeting for the American Anthropological Association (2016) November 16-20, 2016 Minneapolis, MN
We invite ethnographically-rooted papers that discuss the entanglements of infrastructure and ethics and, in fact, infrastructure as ethics. A geographic turn in anthropology and allied disciplines (Harvey 2005, Larkin 2008) has arisen as a means by which to address questions of how institutions work in their material and symbolic dimensions. This has obvious links to ruin/crisis/precarity/apocalypse. From the refugee crisis to anthropogenic climate change to the political economic detritus of global capitalism, the spatialization of value offers a way to apprehend vulnerability, and particularly the effects on the marginalized. Similarly, an attention to ethics engages how value is formed, ranging from labor theories of value to forms of value that emanate from self-fashioning, but also asks how it is that the good and the desirable are inscribed, measured, cultivated. Perhaps exacerbated by anthropocenic pressures, matters of political ecology are resurgent as activists, scholars, politicians, and the general public debate how to envision society’s ideal relationship to nature (with all the preceding words understood to be highly contested, most especially “to”). Advances in medical testing, cloning, life/death boundaries, articulate biopolitical concerns of sovereignty as post-human ethics. Taking up the critique offered by 19th century resistance actions of Luddite sabotage, we propose thinking of infrastructure + ethics as a way to move beyond the reification of states, corporations, processes.
The strength of ethnography is to attend to how people make their lives in its and their complexities. Thus we are interested in papers that trace assemblages and hybridities. Other potential sites for the productive intersection of built environment and cosmological frameworks are protest movements on the ground, like those against oil and gas pipelines. By the same token, energy and transportation elites who construct supply chains highlight a renewed urgency to study up. And one important intervention we draw from legal studies in Iberian empires is that infrastructure does more than hold information; rather, “lettered cities” illustrate how knowledge is infrastructure and, hence, we also beckon papers that rethink map-making. For our panel at the 2016 meeting of the AAAs, we welcome papers that take up themes of the co-construction of infrastructure and ethics.
If interested, please send a 250-word abstract to christine.folch AT duke.edu by Saturday, April 2 2016.