CFP: AAA panel – “The Ends of Infrastructure”

Call for Papers
AAA 2017
Washington, D.C.

The Ends of Infrastructure / Infrastructural Ends

The papers on this panel consider infrastructure at its edges: its test cases, frontiers, leftovers, and loose ends. We ask: what happens just past the point of connection? How and where does infrastructural construction stop? When has infrastructure decayed beyond the point of recognition? And how do infrastructure’s imaginative attachments continue to travel beyond its physical things? What futures are conjured from infrastructures’ recalcitrant remains?

While many have productively considered infrastructural failure, in this panel we are interested in its physical and conceptual ends: the points when infrastructure threatens to become other; the formations that ask us to radically reconsider what infrastructure is.

In doing so, we also aim to interrogate the life of infrastructure as a charismatic concept in anthropology, asking what it offers as well as what it obscures.

Papers on this panel will consider (but are not limited to) the following themes:
• The politics of infrastructural construction: questions of public welfare, processes of privatization, and conditions of uneven, unequal access
• Temporalities of planning, progress, ruin, and decay: when do infrastructures come into being, and when do they stop being recognized?
• The material semiotics, aesthetics and “poetics” (Larkin 2013) of infrastructure at its edge
• Infrastructure’s others: how is infrastructure distinct from nature (Carse 2014), semiosis (Elyachar 2010), or sociality (Simone 2012)? How are these cuts made, in theory and in practice?

We welcome ethnographically-informed explorations of these and other questions.

Interested participants should send a tentative title, abstract of no more than 250 words, three keywords, and institutional affiliation and current status (PhD candidate, post-fieldwork, postdoc, faculty) by Friday, March 24th.

Please direct all questions to Alix Johnson (

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