Infrastructure supports, connects, separates, constrains, frees, transforms, communicates, and stores who we are. It reinforces and reshapes the stresses between dwelling and work, center and margin, high and low, and local and global that make a society. Yet it is normally mute. Until something breaks, decays, or, as in heritage infrastructure, needs to be remembered or recapitalized. Then it speaks. Especially at moments of ruin or risk, infrastructure speaks eloquently about those who otherwise leave little textual evidence behind but instead a dreadful or artful material history — tracks at a border wall, inscriptions on the walls of the Angel Island immigrant cells, or graffiti on a bridge. Infrastructure is the literature of those whose identities are made by being acted on by the medium of infrastructure, even as they make themselves by acting in, and against, infrastructure. People on the “right” side of the wall, the cell, the tracks, and so on are also subjects of infrastructure — for example, each time they get in a car and just drive, or boot their computer and just browse.
Critical Infrastructures Studies (CIstudies.org) is the site of an international community of scholars from many fields who are exploring how looking at the world through the concept of infrastructure — made, built, shaped, crafted, interwoven, old, new, lived, and also resisted things and systems–can make a difference…. [Read more]