Architecture as Infrastructure: The spatial politics of extractivism

Hélène Frichot, Sepideh Karami

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In discourse on infrastructures a recurring motif depicts the moment of technical failure, which we argue is indicative of social and political failure. Infrastructures offer spatial and informational support that recedes into the background of our collective consciousness right up until the moment of breakdown. This chapter turns to the politics of falling and failing infrastructures in a bid to understand how the spatial support systems that compose infrastructures are one means by which we can measure the political viability of a society. While the failure of infrastructures places people in situations of vulnerability, new forms of collectivity can take shape as a result. In other words, when one form of infrastructure fails, a new form takes shape to maintain the flow of life or to transform failure into a renewed ground for political expression, a stage for political discontent, even a chance for political change. The failure and falling apart of infrastructures demand a new understanding, conceptual and material, of acts of repair and maintenance, which includes the ways we collaboratively mend the disconnected fragments of a society. We look to those infrastructures usually located in the off-scenes of daily life, in those landscapes where the economic pressure to extract resources confronts the ecological vulnerability of material and social ecologies. We place two sites of extraction into dialogue, Sari Gunny goldmine in Kurdistan, Iran and Juukan Gorge in Western Australia, to investigate how their infrastructures produce devastating effects as well as give rise to surprising socialities and political assemblies conceived here as forms of socio-political infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space and Politics
Subtitle of host publicationViolence, Spectacle and Data
EditorsNikolina Bobic, Farzaneh Haghighi
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Electronic)9781003112464
ISBN (Print)9780367629175
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


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