Technopolitics

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GANT

Course Number: 6614

From railroads to communication networks, water pipes and electricity wires, technologies of security and extraction, infrastructures and technologies have been central to mediating modernity. This course explores infrastructure and technology as integral to particular assemblages of power and to the constitution of new political terrains. Rather than neutral means towards more substantive ends, we will approach infrastructures as networked systems that both shape and are shaped by social life and as such, can open up a broader set of questions in relation to power, subjectivity and politics. The course begins by examining the historical relationship between infrastructure, technology and power via studies of colonial infrastructures, Cold War technopolitics and the centrality of infrastructure and technology in projects of development and modernization. We will then explore contemporary questions in relation to infrastructures, such as the technopolitics of oil and water, technologies of piracy, and infrastructures of security and “preparedness”. Finally, the course will examine infrastructure failure, including both the “ordinary break-downs” of infrastructure in cities of the global south and often dramatic infrastructure failures in the aftermath of disasters or war. Readings will be interdisciplinary, drawing primarily on science and technology studies, anthropology, and geography.

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