Critical Infrastructural Studies: (Im)mobile Landscapes of Militarism, Race, and Settler Colonialism

Gabrielle Kirk
UC Davis

Informed by recent scholarship that focuses attention on the crucial but often obscured role of infrastructure in the movement of people, terrain, information, and force, this working group complicates the infrastructural turn in the humanities by expanding the scope of our analysis to include the longue durée of physical and immaterial modes of transport imbricated in settler colonial, racial, and modern logics and imaginaries. Across geographic space, we foreground processes of movement in order to disentangle several paradoxical impacts: how the materiality of landscapes is often profoundly allegorical, how an emphasis on the decay of infrastructures is simultaneously an assertion of their inevitability, and how the seeming omnipresence of logistics belies constant contestation. Convening scholars of literature, geography, history, and critical theory, we disrupt a privileging of the network in infrastructural studies as a way to highlight connectivity, understood as the ways our intensely situated projects also resonate when put side by side. In this vein, we incorporate collective, place-based, and immersive empirical studies alongside abstract discussion. Bridging affect and archive, Southern and Northern California, colonial pasts and neoliberal presents, this working group unearths infrastructure as an object to hone our grasp of the preconditions of social formation.