Accepted Paper:

Circulation in relation to infrastructure: Keeping things cool in Southeast Asia   


Jenny Rinkinen (University of Helsinki)
Mattijs Smits (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on our study of social practices around refrigeration in urban Thailand and Vietnam, we explore dynamic relations between infrastructures and elements of practice. We discuss infrastructures as vectors for demand and use this idea to help explain increasing energy consumption in the home.

Paper long abstract:

Energy demand is escalating in the countries of Southeast Asia. The interlinkage between supply and demand appears to be self-reinforcing: high projections of future demand justify the building of new energy supply, and the increase in supply makes space for new demand. A lot of this new demand is expected to relate to keeping things - people, buildings and food - cool. It is possible to see this constitution of demand as an outcome of the global circulation of practices and their elements. While this helps explain how meanings and materials travel globally and are embedded locally, it leaves questions about the role of the infrastructure unanswered. Drawing on our study of changing social practices around refrigeration in Bangkok and Hanoi, we explore the dynamic relation between infrastructure and the circulating elements of practice. We show how the rising energy demand associated with refrigerating food depends on the interlinked dynamics of food supply, energy infrastructure, appliances and changing patterns of not only eating and cooking, but also of other social practices such as working and cleaning. Based on our findings, we discuss infrastructure as a vector for demand. By doing so, we contribute to theories of social practice, providing a more dynamic view of the relationships between objects and infrastructures. We conclude that infrastructures as vectors of demand helps unpack the creeping nature of dependence in energy related practices.

Panel T006
Infrastructures in practice and in flux