The promises and perils of infrastructure: Envisioning desirable futures in the Global South (1/2)

Gehe zu: Teil (2/2)
Mittwoch (20. September 2023), 09:00–10:30
HZ 15
Theo Aalders (Universität Bonn)
Detlef Müller-Mahn (Universität Bonn)
This panel explores desirable futures of the Global South in the context of infrastructure development. Specifically, we invite panelists to examine the tension between utopic and dystopic visions of un-/desirable infrastructure futures.
English-language session, Globaler Süden, Infrastrukturforschung
Lela Rekhviashvili (Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde (IfL))
Wladimir Sgibnev (Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde (IfL))
Contested socialist past and capitalist aspirations of infrastructure projects in former Soviet peripheries
Willi Bauer (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Alexandra Titz (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Fred Krüger (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Whose garden, who farms? Uncovering Lilongwe’s reimagination as a Garden City in conflict: The case of the Lilongwe Ecological Corridor Initiative

Abstract der Sitzung

The panel relates a focus on infrastructure with debates about desirables futures in the Global South. It invites contributors to examine desirable futures in infrastructure development of the Global South. Key questions are: What is ‘desirable’? For whom? How do people envision their own futures? Multiple overlapping planetary crises often render desirable transformations difficult to imagine. As real and impeding calamities narrow the range of possibility especially in the Global South, questions of what futures are desirable often take a backseat in public and personal imaginaries. This panel seeks to re-open this conversation by putting a particular focus on infrastructure developments in the Global South, which often form arenas in which possible and desirable futures are negotiated among a multitude of local, national and international actors (Müller-Mahn et al., 2021).

Infrastructure maintains a seemingly paradox position between utopic and dystopic visions of the future. The “promise of infrastructure” (Appel et al., 2018) is a central idea within the critical literature on infrastructure, most commonly in association with modernist visions of acceleration and seamless connectivity (Harvey & Knox, 2012). Infrastructure doesn’t only influence how the future can be imagined, but makes this imaginary possible in the first place (Aalders, 2020). Simultaneously, especially fossil fuel infrastructure is considered to create path-dependencies that lock-in unsustainable planetary futures that are literally unimaginable for the sheer dreadfulness. Infrastructure therefore embodies and symbolises the possibility to imagine desirable futures, as well as the impossibility to imagine any future at all.

Contributors are invited to examine this contradiction through both empirically informed as well as conceptual papers. We particularly encourage post-colonial perspectives on desirable infrastructure futures in the Global South that examine entanglements of future imaginaries with global power dynamics. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, questions such as: