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Accepted Paper:

Electric makeshifts: infrastructural calibrations of gender and kinship in Serbian  
Deana Jovanovic (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

The ethnographically paper explores the ways the electric meters in Serbia were calibrated by families and shows how the electric company was implicated in such makeshift practices. The paper argues that through calibrating the meters, gender and kinship relationship were calibrated too.

Paper long abstract:

A great amount of anthropological literature on infrastructures focused so far on how the political manifests through material infrastructures. For instance, one of the main focuses was to understand the “infrastructuralization” of state power (Chu 2014; Mann 1984), the simultaneous presence and absence of the state (Harvey 2005) or how the withdrawal of the state is experienced through them (Schwenkel 2017). The anticipatory quality of infrastructures, as a locus of anticipation with capacity to enact a future in the present, which have political implications, have been discerned as well (Larkin 2011; Reeves 2017). The paper argues that such dominant approaches to the notion of the political omitted other categories from the studies, such as gender and kinship, which are implicated in the production of power and in the reproduction of the political. This article fills in this gap and explores the ways in which the relationship with electrical infrastructures in Serbia calibrated gender and kinship relations. The paper explores the matter ethnographically by looking into ways in which the electric meters were calibrated by families in Serbia and how the state-owned electric company and their workers were implicated in such makeshift practices. The paper argues that such material engagements became conduits of social relations and that through calibrating the meters gender and kinship relationships were calibrated as well. The paper also adds that their political implications had particular resonance in the everyday lives.

Panel P008a
Infrastructural makeshifts: the temporality and materiality of hope in times of urban transformations I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -