Postgraduate Course: Infrastructure and Development (PGSP11493)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||In the early 21st century, infrastructure has re-emerged in the field of international development as a key problem with an accompanying set of policies, programmes and projects conceived to address it. In response, a growing body of research across different disciplines has sought to rethink infrastructure in its political, economic and cultural dimensions.
Through lectures, readings and seminar discussions, we will interrogate the links between debates about international development and infrastructure as an analytic category. How did roads, cables and pipes come to be known as infrastructure? How are different infrastructural formations bound up with changing theories, ideologies and imaginaries of development?
The course aims to introduce students to the sorts of questions that are raised when infrastructure is used as the primary optic to explore socioeconomic worlds across different geographies. How can we best apprehend the tasks of planning, financing, building, managing, maintaining, rehabilitating, disposing of or repurposing infrastructure?
We will examine a range of concepts that help us put these processes in their contemporary contexts. At the same time, we will draw on classic texts that help us make sense of the formative contexts that produced the modern category of infrastructure in the 1960s. This course will emphasize the importance of recent transformations, analyse the purposes that infrastructures are meant to serve today, and trace the ways in which those purposes are conceptualized. We will pay particular attention to the agencies that promote them as well as the novel collective relations and technologies that are mobilized in the process.
This course asks students to reflect on two overarching questions: what claims are different infrastructural publics making on policy makers and experts? To what extent does the provisioning of infrastructure today involve an adaptation of earlier norms and techniques?
1. Academic description
- The course will introduce students to perspectives on infrastructure from development studies, social anthropology, science and technology studies, sociology, political science and economics. It will also allow students to consider the weight of historical and ethnographic contexts. It will pay particular attention to in-depth studies conducted across a range of geographic contexts, including Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
2. Course structure:
The course will be delivered over 10 weeks involving a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar session.
Weekly topics may include:
- What is infrastructure? Why does infrastructure matter?
- The emergence of infrastructure as a category.
- A żGolden Ageż of infrastructure?
- Infrastructure, big and small
- Planning, finance and construction
- Festival of Creative Learning (no teaching)
- Governance, operation, and maintenance
- Retrofit, decline, ruins
- Infrastructural publics
- Infrastructure and humanitarianism
- The futures of infrastructure.
3. Student learning experience
- 1-hour lectures will introduce the weeks key concepts and debates. They will feature case studies that illustrate different aspects of infrastructural systems.
- Weekly seminars will involve: 1) brief discussion of news items or blog entries chosen by students and submitted to a discussion forum beforehand; 2) short presentations of two of the weeks readings; 3) group discussion of lecture and readings.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key concepts and debates in the study of infrastructures.
- In-depth understanding of the political and economic dynamics that underpin the life cycle of infrastructures across the world.
- Ability to critically analyse infrastructural projects promoted by actors ranging from governments, international finance organizations, development agencies, corporations, and non-profit organizations.
|Annand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic City: water and the infrastructures of citizenship in Mumbai. Durham: Duke University Press. |
Carse, Ashley. 2014. Beyond the Big Ditch: politics, ecology, and infrastructure in the Panama Canal. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Harvey, Penny and Hannah Knox. 2013. Roads: an anthropology of infrastructure and expertise. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Rankin, William J. 2009. Infrastructure and the international governance of economic development, 1960-1965, in J.-F. Auger et al. eds. Internationalization of Infrastructures. Delft: Delft University of Technology.
Venkatesen, Soumhya et al. 2016. Attention to infrastructure offers a welcome reconfiguration of anthropological approaches to the political, Critique of Anthropology 0(0): 1-50.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||The course aims to equip students with the following skills:
1. Synthesizing and analysing empirical and theoretical materials from varied sources.
2. Examining, using, and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims.
3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take complexity into account.
4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment
|Course organiser||Dr Jose Munoz Martin
Tel: (0131 6)51 5678
|Course secretary||Ms Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205