Accepted Paper:

Material governmentalities of urban infrastructures: how matter matters for traffic regulations?  


Tauri Tuvikene (Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

Infrastructures are not only producing or lived but also governed, with the governing linked to the materiality of governed objects and subjects. The paper investigates the difference between regulating cars and walkers in urban infrastructures and makes a gesture towards material governmentality.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks into the governing of urban infrastructures, focusing on transport infrastructures. It is argued here that while there is a need to pay attention not only the production-side of infrastructures but also to how they are 'lived' (Graham and McFarlane, 2015), we should additionally note the intersection between infrastructures and governing. The regulations concerning infrastructures—both the needs and tools for regulations—are in many ways entangled in to the materiality of infrastructures and infrastructure users. Regulations of cars and pedestrians—which are the infrastructure users discussed in this paper—are different due to the speed, physical size and movement potentials of the mobile subjects. Thus, it is cheaper to direct pedestrians rather than cars into tunnels and it is possible to interrupt traffic intersection crossing for pedestrians more than for cars as pedestrians can be easily stacked up on pedestrian islands. And yet, owing to the flexibility of human body, pedestrians can often refuse to follow such regulations by running red lights or avoiding tunnels. Thus, there are discrepancies between planned governing and practice, both in different ways entangled to the materiality of the governed subject. The paper draws on the finished doctoral research on material governmentality of post-socialist automobility and brings those conceptual developments together with a recently started post-doctoral project on governing urban walkscapes, which investigates the complexities of regulating pedestrian mobility in the city of Tallinn in Estonia.

Panel T006
Infrastructures in practice and in flux