Infrastructuring Green Urban Futures in China

Authors: C.P. POW*, National University of Singapore
Topics: Urban Geography, Environment, China
Keywords: infrastructure, China, urban politics, expertise
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines how urban infrastructure projects as heterogeneous and relational sociotechnical assemblages have been used to tame and ‘fix’ environmental problems in contemporary urban China. Far from being invisible/subterranean technical objects, spectacular infrastructure projects such as the flagship Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) encode China’s ‘eco-civilization’ dreams and ambition that signal both the politics and poetics of infrastructural spaces in the everyday life. But to the extent that infrastructures are themselves unstable products of sociotechnical relations, projects such as the SSTEC risk being destabilized by unruly social and physical forces that threaten to subvert the urban plans and ‘best practices’ laid down by Singapore and Chinese planners. Yet the presence of such unruly forces, instead of negating or subverting the promise of the eco-city, actually reinforces and reinvigorates debates on what ecological living means for the residents in their everyday life and open up deferred/referential spaces of hope. To this end, the paper draws critical attention to the cultural work of infrastructure in ecological urban imagineering and shows how urban infrastructuring can be deployed as a useful (cultural) analytic to reimagine the city as a technical and social-aesthetic arrangement.

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