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The Politics of Infrastructure Class Proposal

THE POLITICS OF INFRASTRUCTURE

upper level undergraduate (400) or graduate course (500 to 900)


With the rise of infrastructuralized platforms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook that aim to structure day to day life of citizens across the world, the need for a turn to a critical study of these infrastructures and platforms is necessary. With conceptual roots in the Enlightenment, infrastructure is not merely a material basis upon which everyday life is built but rather is intimately entangled with the shaping of modern society and realizations of the future (Larkin, 2013). Infrastructure, despite its obscure nature, is political, and imposes its logics upon the world in ways that are not clearly visible.


From large scale electrical grids and plumbing systems to the Internet, infrastructure has gone from being “invisible” and has aggressively made its presence known in the digital age. Drawing from science and technology studies, media studies, digital humanities, and communication, this course explores the history of infrastructure, its impact on the shaping of social life, and attempts to move toward “infrastructure studies” from the tradition of cultural studies. By thinking of systems in terms of both their material artifacts as well as the people involved in them, this course will introduce students to the field of critical infrastructure studies, technopolitics, and methods for its analysis.


Course Goals:

- Introduce students to the field of critical infrastructure studies

- Introduce students to methodological approaches for studying infrastructure

- Get students to engage with critical analysis of non-human objects and actors; negotiate the ways that the material and the social are entangled


This is a hybrid course with face-to-face and online meetings.

- Meet face-to-face ever other week, other weeks are online based.


Things that will be easy when creating this course:

- Readings

- Structuring the course in a way that it flows logically from topic to topic


Things that I am nervous about:

- This course will mostly be the most productive when students are abel to engage in critical discussion, which may be more difficult online

- For courses that deal with critical analysis, different modes of assessment aside from papers may be difficult and will require some imaginative thinking on the part of the instructor.

© 2018 by Julia DeCook.