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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie | Termine | Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Wann 18.12.2018 von 14:00 bis 16:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100) iCal
Wo Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Raum 0007
Kontaktname Jens Adam
Website Externe Website öffnen

The Materiality of "Transition": Infrastructure as a Political Terrain in South Africa

Antina von Schnitzler (The New School, New York)


Drawing on fieldwork with engineers, activists and residents involved in a long-standing battle over a controversial water infrastructure project in Soweto, this paper charts the multiple forms and idioms of the politics of infrastructure in South Africa. In disputes over payment for service charges, water cut-offs or evictions, in the spectacular destruction of infrastructures during protests or the more silent bypassing of water meters, I suggest, infrastructures themselves become both objects and forms of making political claims. Neither merely symbol of nor simply conduit for power, here infrastructure emerges as the very terrain of politics. In turn, infrastructure also enables a perspective from which to chart a more material history of the anti-apartheid struggle and to track the continuities with the late apartheid period. An anthropology of infrastructure, I suggest, may thus also expand the conceptual and imaginative horizons of how we study political transformation.


Antina von Schnitzler is Associate Professor of International Affairs and Anthropology at The New School in New York. Her research focuses on the techno-politics of energy and water, citizenship and postcoloniality. She is the author of "Democracy’s Infrastructure: Techno-Politics and Protest after Apartheid" (Princeton University Press, 2016).



Please consult the whole programme of the lecture series „Ethnographies of the Contemporary: Perspektiven und Positionen einer Anthropologie des Politischen“