Infrastructuring Responsibility, Responsibilizing Infrastructure: Affective Politics in Airspace Production

Authors: Weiqiang Lin*, National University of Singapore
Topics: Cultural Geography, Political Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: airspace; infrastructure, responsibility, care, affect, technoscience, aeromobilities, science and technology studies, geopolitics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper brings into conversation facets of infrastructural production with an affective politics of care and responsibility. In recent years, infrastructure has figured as a vital trope for framing and explaining the emergence of various social phenomena. Yet, scholars examining these artifacts tend to emphasize their post-formative effects on society, without so much attending to the cultural underpinnings that impel these technoscience formations to ‘responsibly’ become in the first place. Rather than rehearsing again the organizational and splintering role that infrastructures play after they are built, this paper uses the example of a partial airspace reconfiguration in the South China Sea to tease out the centrality of affective registers of care and responsibility in performing and driving infrastructural change. In particular, it examines how certain leading airspace stakeholders try to push for particular ‘worthwhile’ projects among Southeast Asian partners, through inciting a panoply of needs and ethical concerns. The paper traces admonitions from these stakeholders to encourage regional players to cooperate in i) resisting political sectarianism; ii) delivering a more cost efficient airspace to users; and iii) increasing safety standards. Recognizing that the proposed changes would ultimately benefit some states more than others, the paper concludes by reflecting on the role of responsibility as an affective force for realizing domination in technoscience.

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