University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

February 7, 2013: The Incitements of Infrastructure – A presentation with Nikhil Anand and Hannah Appel

Infrastructures- water pipes, oil rigs, roads, electricity networks- are critical sites that enable the movement of materials necessary for the everyday life of capitalism, the legitimacy of states, and the viability of human bodies in different parts of the word.  Yet, as recent disasters such as the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill, the Fukushima meltdown, and the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis have shown, infrastructures are precarious arrangements of imagination and materials, of politics and technology, where failure is as much a part of their daily lives as the delivery of energy or transport.  In this talk, we draw attention to the ways  in which the maintenance, repair and reproduction of unstable, mobile infrastructures- particularly oil rigs in Equatorial Guinea and water pipes in India- provide new ways to theorize the workings of the corporation and the operations of government.

Nikhil Anand is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Haverford College and in the spring of 2013 he will be in residence at the IAS as a Quadrant Fellow with the Environment, Culture, and Sustainability group. His research interests include political ecology, political economy and state formation; infrastructure and technology; urban studies, democracy and citizenship; and South Asia (particularly India). Prof. Anand’s recent publications include “Municipal Disconnect: On Abject Water and its Urban Infrastructures” (2012) and “Housing in the Urban Age: Inequality and Aspiration in Mumbai” (with A. Rademacher, 2011). In 2008, he collaborated with an arts collective, CAMP, and two youth groups, Aagaz and Aakansha to produce Ek Dozen Paani (One Dozen Waters), a series of twelve short films. The films have been made with the members of the youth groups shooting on their own, bringing their footage into a collective pool, and writing over images in analytical, diarisitic or essay styles. Taken together, the twelve stories speak of water’s time and place, of leaky systems and subterranean flows, of struggle and/over imagination.

Professor Anand will be in conversation with Hannah Chadeayne Appel, a Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow with the department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley.  Together, they are working on an edited volume with the tentative title The Excitements of Infrastructure, which takes a look  at the unsteady unstable infrastructures we find in most of the world (including the US) to theorize how politics, materials and technology continue to govern our lives, by making certain kinds of government, and particular forms of capitalism viable.  This second project will be the subject of today’s presentation.

Amir Hussain  interviewd Nikhil Anand in August of 2012

Hannah Chadeayne Appel spoke in an earler event at the IAS, with Karen Ho, on the Occupy Wall Street movement.  See the video of the event at

This talk is also available as an audio download (.mp3 – 51.3 MB) or as a video podcast (.m4v – 263.2 MB).

Question and Answer Session

This Q&A is also available as an audio download (.mp3 – 27.8 MB) or as a video podcast (.m4v – 153.5 MB).

Tagged , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *