Collection no. 001

Collection no. 001: Infrastructural Times

February 2019 

The first curated collection of Roadsides advances an argument that infrastructure is inherently lively and fragile because it is always a complex web of multiple temporalities. The texts in this collection show a few examples of the variety of temporalities that make and unmake infrastructure in the Canadian Arctic, in Tajikistan, in India, at the eastern borders of the European Union, in Switzerland and in England. Focusing explicitly on those temporalities should provide food for thought in terms of rethinking infrastructure as an asynchronic timescape (Adam 1998).

Edited by Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi

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Julie Chu, Tina Harris, Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi, Madlen Kobi, Galen Murton, Nadine Plachta, Matthäus Rest, Alessandro Rippa, Martin Saxer, Christina Schwenkel, and Max Woodworth

We are delighted to present the initial collection of Roadsides entitled “Infrastructural Times”, curated by Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi.

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Introduction: Infrastructure as an Asynchronic Timescape

Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi encourages us to think infrastructures such as roads, pipelines or dams as places in which specific social relations intersect and accumulate over time, forming unique social-material-political terrain.

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Making Time in Maintenance Work

Ignaz Strebel, Moritz F. Fürst, and Alain Bovet demonstrate how time is perceived by maintenance workers in Switzerland as highly intersubjective, with a functioning water infrastructure being “a collective endeavour over time.”

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The Infrastructural Side Effects of Geopolitics: Fortuitous Socio-Biological Modifications to Three European Borders

Francisco Martínez and Tarmo Pikner take us to three borders: between Georgia and Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, and Estonia and Russia – to observe how geopolitics translates onto highly unstable infrastructural forms that affect the cycles of agricultural work, fishing and commuting.

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Back to the Future: The Aftermath of Soviet Modernity in Tajikistan’s Pamirs

Carolin Maertens analyses the visit of Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon to the Wakhan Valley in the Pamirs as a “temporal event” that reveals how the future-oriented vision of the president collides with the local feeling that modernity has already happened in the past.

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Geological Surprises: State Rationality and Himalayan Hydropower in India

Mabel D. Gergan discusses the entangled temporalities of geological science and infrastructure construction in India, focusing in particular on “geological surprises”, that is, the ways in which the “young” Himalayan terrain interferes in state plans of dam construction.

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Midnight Blues in the Melting Arctic

Mia M. Bennett walks us through the suspended reality of the polar day and ponders how things thought of as permanent, such as permafrost, have turned out to be much less than that in the Canadian Arctic.

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Tailbacks in Time, East Anglia

Richard D.G. Irvine focuses on the time-depth of the terrain beneath the A14, a major road in east England. Superimposed on a Roman road and skirting the subsiding Fens, recent construction also uncovered the 100,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth, revealing very different environmental past.

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Complete Roadsides Collection no. 001 in high resolution (38 MB)

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Complete Roadsides Collection no. 001 in low resolution (20 MB)

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