Mobilizing materiality: theorizing the relationship between finance and infrastructure development

Natalia Buier (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Cristiana Strava (Leiden University)
Marc Morell (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
Start time:
14 August, 2018 at 10:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

We address movement by looking at infrastructure development as a form of the circulation of capital through the built environment. We are interested in papers that analyse social phenomena that result from infrastructures' ability to join the movement of material resources and financial capital.

Long abstract:

The financial crisis and the quest for higher returns on capital which accompanies it have lead, in the last years, to a veritable infrastructure rush. Contrary to mainstream assumptions about the ethereal nature of fictitious capital, its circulation through the built environment has resulted in an unprecedented pressure to expand a wide range of infrastructures. Whether we are looking at transport, energy or telecommunications infrastructures it becomes clear that overaccumulation in the financial economy translates into overproduction in the built environment. This panel addresses the relationship between financialization and the circulation of capital through the built environment through the lens of infrastructural development. We are looking for contributions that engage with specific infrastructural projects and that seek to expand the theoretical debates in the anthropology of infrastructure. "Materiality" has been a central analytical category of the recent anthropology of infrastructure, yet it remains chronically undertheorized. This has important implications for the ethnography of infrastructure, since it limits anthropologists' ability to scale up from local, fragmented studies of infrastructure towards a historical anthropology of infrastructure and an unambiguous contribution to the ethnographic study of financial crises. We welcome contributions that explicitly engage with the relationship between finance and financialisation, infrastructure and the transformation of the environment, or between infrastructure materialities and the affective and political registers they produce or are associated with.