Affective infrastructure: Hospital landscapes of hope and failure

Alice Street*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Hospitals are designed as spaces of improvement. Yet an accumulation of infrastructural projects can lead over time to the emergence of a layered landscape made up of multiple incongruous planned spaces. This article focuses on Madang General Hospital in Papua New Guinea as one example of such a landscape. Here, deteriorating colonial buildings jostle against new gleaming constructions built with donor funds. The layered effect of the postcolonial landscape draws attention to enduring racial and class inequalities; the colonial past is rendered present in the buildings of the future. Drawing on recent work on affect in anthropology and cultural geography, the author argues that this landscape impresses affects of hope and disappointment on the people who inhabit it and shapes ambivalent attachments to national and state futures. This double movement of improvement and decay is analyzed as a process of ruination that is intrinsic to modern spaces of improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-56
Number of pages13
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • affect
  • health inequality
  • hospital ethnography
  • infrastructure
  • postcolonialism
  • ruination


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