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The Prosthetics of Infrastructure: Invisible Bodies, Devalued Labor and the Everyday Circulation of Water in Delhi

Event Type
Seminar/Symposium
Sponsor
Department of Geography & GIS
Virtual
wifi event
Date
Feb 11, 2022   3:00 - 4:00 pm  
Speaker
Dr. Yaffa Truelove, University of Colorado at Boulder
Cost
This event is free and open to public
Registration
Registration
Contact
Department of Geography & GIS
E-Mail
geography@illinois.edu
Views
13
Originating Calendar
Geography and Geographic Information Science

This paper interrogates the relationship between the body and socio-material dimensions of
infrastructure in the city. Although a burgeoning interdisciplinary literature has been attentive 
to the socio-material features of infrastructure, the generative relationship between 
infrastructure and the body has received less attention. Bringing a feminist political ecology lens 
to critical infrastructure studies, I show how gendered/casted/classed bodies act as part of urban 
infrastructure through the quotidian practices and labor of finding and circulating water to 
households across neighborhoods. I specifically use the concept-metaphor of “prosthesis” as a 
heuristic devise to help show when and how bodies become ‘internalized’ as part of infrastructural 
networks, and to render visible often overlooked dimensions of infrastructure and our analytic view 
of it. I argue that conceptualizing the body as a prosthesis to infrastructure helps make visible 
1.) the embodied labor, maintenance and care work that subsidizes and enables infrastructural 
assemblages and networks, 2.) the politics that produce the necessity for particular 
gendered/casted/classed bodies to act as infrastructure in the first place, and 3.) the 
valuation/devaluation of labor and lives in relation to urban infrastructure. I conclude by calling 
for further analyses of the body as the site by which the sociopolitical and material dimensions of
infrastructure are affected, resisted, negotiated, and lived.

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