Collection no. 009

Collection no. 009: Gendering Infrastructure

Spring 2023

Infrastructures as diverse as open-air urinals on the streets of Paris, smart meters that monitor water flows to residents in Cape Town, and the Boda Boda transport systems that enable mobility in Kampala are highly gendered. At the micro-level, gender constructions play a substantial role in everyday infrastructure uses and practices such as where and for whom a toilet can be accessed. At regional, national and international scales gendered symbolism and power relations shape the forms and meanings that buildings, roads, and digital infrastructures take. Despite the pervasiveness with which gender shapes our everyday life, gendered dimensions of infrastructure have received relatively less attention in the literature compared with other aspects of the social, political and cultural embeddedness of infrastructure.

In this issue of Roadsides, we aim to add to the emergent but significant scholarship that tackles the conceptual and analytical intersection of gender and infrastructure. Thinking infrastructurally, we posit, implies thinking about gender relations and their myriad manifestations in social life. Instead of thinking about gender as but another variable to keep in mind while assessing the impact of infrastructure in daily life, we contend that gender fundamentally shapes infrastructure and is, in turn, shaped by infrastructure.

Edited by Sneha Annavarapu and Yaffa Truelove 

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Gendering Infrastructure: An Introduction

In their introduction to this collection, Yaffa Truelove and Sneha Annavarapu contend that gender – as a relational and intersectional concept, as a category of self-identification and as lived experience – fundamentally shapes infrastructure and is, in turn, shaped by it.

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Estoy llenita de agua: Caring for Infrastructural Belonging in Cartagena

Weaving together the stories of women’s efforts to ‘resuscitate’ rubble as building material, Silke Oldenburg and María Buelvas show how gendered labor and care practices in Cartagena have complex effects on women’s bodies, communities and belonging in the city.

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Bodily Infrastructures of Care

In this article, Sofía Rivera-García examines the lives of street vendors in San Salvador and captures the nuanced ways infrastructures of care can shape and mitigate the inequities and challenges that characterize women’s labour.

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Indoor Public Health: Gendered Infrastructures of Epidemic Control

Examining the labour of state workers in the health infrastructure for regulation of dengue in Lahore, Nida Rehman shows how dominant gendered assumptions shape women workers’ experience of space and mobility.

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Infrastructure Aunties

Youbin Kang focuses on the “infrastructure aunties” of Seoul and shows how the aunty labour that keeps the city moving is exploited but that it also simultaneously challenges gendered boundaries of public and private.

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Working, Bending, Suffering: Embodying Irrigation Infrastructure in Rural Ethiopia

Annapia Debarry’s investigation of irrigation development in rural Ethiopia reveals gender differentiated dimensions of infrastructural labour associated with international funding for large-scale infrastructure.

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Laundry and Leisure

Examining the urban resettlement in Colombo, Iromi Perera argues that an infrastructural imaginary of world-classness obscures the impact urban resettlement has had on women’s labor and leisure, on familial equations, and on neighborly intimacy and security.

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“We have arrived”: Gendered Roads in Bharatpur, Nepal

In this essay, Hanna Ruszczyk reveals how paved roads and clean streets in urban Nepal are specifically gendered desires and can serve to reify gendered power relations.

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Everyday Tactics of Menstruating Commuters in Tokyo

Sakuko Sugawara explores how menstruating women experience the rail infrastructures in Tokyo and, thus, shines a light on how menstruation is not just a biological or cultural issue, but an infrastructural one.

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Queering the Line

In a provocative exploration of how the socio-material conception of “the straight line” concretizes capitalist, patriarchal and heteronormative relations into the world, Dominic Davies puts forward a call for a queer engagement with infrastructure.

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Complete Roadsides Collection no. 009 in high resolution (52 MB)

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Complete Roadsides Collection no. 009 in low resolution (2 MB)

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