Issue Number Seven: Public Infrastructures/Infrastructural Publics

Edited by: Stephen J. Collier, James Christopher Mizes and Antina von Schnitzler

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July 2016: Infrastructure has always had a privileged relationship to both expertise and the public in modern government. But in the early 21st century, this relationship is inflected in novel ways. The purposes public infrastructure was meant to serve—welfare, quality of life, economic development, and so on—persist. But they are often conceptualized differently, promoted by different agencies, and articulated through novel technological and collective relations. This issue of Limn explores new formations of infrastructure, publicness, and expertise.The contributions examine how new forms of expertise conceive the public and make claims in its name, how publics are making novel claims on experts (and claims to expertise), and how earlier norms and techniques of infrastructure provisioning are being adapted in the process.

Contributors: Nikhil Anand, Soe Lin Aung, Jonathan Bach, Andrea Ballestero, Andrew Barry, Ashley Carse, Stephen J. Collier, Savannah Cox, and Kevin Grove, Kevin Donovan and Emma Park, Catherine Fennell, Andreas Folkers, Gökçe Günel, Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, Andrew Lakoff, James Christopher Mizes, Canay Özden-Schilling, Ute Tellmann and Sven Opitz, Antina von Schnitzler, and Alan Wiig

The Thick and Thin of the Zone

Soe Lin Aung examines the Thilawa special economic zone to shed light on infrastructure’s changing publics in contemporary Myanmar.

Who Owns Africa’s Infrastructure?

James Christopher Mizes examines how an emerging style of African infrastructure planning and finance is inflecting an old political collectivity with “new” values.

China’s Infrastructural Fix

How is modernity being reclaimed as a Chinese project? Jonathan Bach investigates the politics of infrastructure in today’s most ambitious developmental state.

Crafting a Digital Public

What makes a city smart? Alan Wiig examines a project to promote urban development through information infrastructure in Philadelphia.

Spongy Aquifers, Messy Publics

Is an aquifer a tank or a sponge? Andrea Ballestero investigates how publics navigate the scientific indeterminacy of the underground in Costa Rica

Infrastructural Incursions

What does it take to flood a highway? Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox examine how old infrastructure projects—and old infrastructural publics—get submerged by new ones in Peru.

An “Expensive Toy”

What does Abu Dhabi’s green future look like? Gökçe Günel explores Masdar City in a once-promising Personal Rapid Transit Pod.

Between the Nation and the State

Is your mobile phone company seeing like a state? Emma Park and Kevin P. Donovan explore telecommunications and contemporary nationalism in Kenya.

The Zone of Entrainment

We know that environmental concerns have been used to block infrastructure projects. But can infrastructure be used to side-step environmental concerns? Andrew Lakoff on water provision and species protection in California.

Nuclear States, Renewable Democracies?

Andreas Folkers recalls how nuclear energy created a powerful counter-public in Germany beginning in the 1970s, and assesses the contemporary politics of energy alternatives.

Hydraulic Publics

Nikhil Anand explores why reforms to the Mumbai water system failed.

Rebuilding by Design in Post-Sandy New York

What is the scope for local planning in large-scale infrastructure projects today? Stephen J. Collier, Savannah Cox, and Kevin Grove explore the multiple publics of flood control in New York City

Infrastructure Made Public

Five year planning is dead. Long live the five year plan! Andrew Barry explores infrastructure’s transparencies and opacities in the UK

Expertise in the Grid

Do you know how to read your electricity bill? Canay Özden-Schilling examines how new electricity experts—and new publics—are creating and contesting the price of U.S. household energy today.

Are We All Flint?

Why is lead-contaminated water a matter of public concern but contaminated housing is not? Catherine Fennell explores infrastructure and the politics of solidarity.