AAG Annual Meeting

Vanesa Castán Broto and Steve Graham (Newcastle University) have organised two sessions on "Infrastructure shocks and the politics of urban life" at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in New York 24-28 February 2012.

Please contact Vanesa for further information.

Session Title: Infrastructure shocks and the politics of urban life

Session Organizers: Vanesa Castán Broto (UCL) and Stephen Graham (Newcastle University)

Although urban infrastructure networks are central to understand the constitution and organisation of modern urban life, they are often assumed, hidden, invisible. Critical analyses of the political ecologies and economies of infrastructures have sought to open this infrastructure “black-box” by examining how material and symbolic components are assembled in ceaseless processes of urban circulation.

Since the publication of Splintering Urbanism, there has been a growing interest not only in emerging forms of urbanism associated with particular understandings of urban infrastructure, but also in how infrastructures shape urban inequalities. Moreover, recent analyses of the securitisation of critical infrastructures, global economic crises and climate change have mapped the emergence of purposive attempts to reconfigure infrastructures in response to global urban challenges.

Infrastructure shocks are important moments in which the social and material relationships become visible, and thus, they open up a window for a critical examination of urban networked infrastructure because “disruptions and breakdowns in normal geographies of circulation allow us to excavate the usually hidden politics of flow and connection, of mobility and immobility, within contemporary societies” (Graham, 2010). Disruption, failure and emergency are also thought to be a constant feature in contexts of informality, economic meltdowns, environmental crises or wars on terror.

This session will bring together papers which critically examine infrastructure disruptions, failures and shocks either by analysing responses to shocks and catastrophes or by using infrastructure shock as an organising concept to analyse urban life. Topics for the session may include, for example:

  • Global crises and urban infrastructure
  • Social, political and spatial responses to catastrophes
  • Management of infrastructure disruptions and their aftermath
  • Urban infrastructure and political violence
  • Infrastructure disruptions and inequality
  • Critical infrastructure securitization
  • Infrastructure responses to future global catastrophes 

Last modified: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 09:16:14 BST