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Accepted Paper:

Spectral Infrastructures and the substance of absence  
Jon Schubert (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

How can we account for the social efficacy of nonrealised infrastructures? This paper investigates a spectral refinery in Lobito, Angola, to think about the futures opened up by speculation on infrastructure.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past decade, anthropologists have engaged with the ‘promise of infrastructure’: the publics created, the collective relations formed, the technologies and desires mobilised in the pursuit of such investments. Yet how can we account for the social efficacy of unrealised projects? This paper traces the social life of a ‘spectral’ oil refinery in the Angolan port town of Lobito. In a moment of crisis, lives revolve around the of goods, of money, and of perspectives, giving substance to absence. Rather than thinking of the ‘suturing points’ of the city — the port, the railway, and the planned refinery — as capitalist debris or evidence of collapsed futures, we may think of people’s engagement with paper infrastructures as speculative.

Panel P154
Paper dreams: traces of unrealised projects as archeology of collective futures [Anthropology of Economy Network]
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -