A City of Many Worlds: Tunneling Between Nature and Technology

Authors: Demetra Kourri*, University of Manchester
Topics: Urban Geography, Environmental Perception, East Europe
Keywords: infrastructure, materiality, STS, ANT, nature-culture
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Prague’s Blanka tunnel project has been a site for assembling social relations in the capital city and the Czech Republic for decades. Today it continues to trigger controversies surrounding practices of planning, negotiation, and contestation of this project. This paper focuses on a critical moment of breakdown; a collapse in a protected park, that provides a particular ‘visibility’ and a deeper insight into the tunneling process and questions the relationship between the ‘natural’ and the man-made in infrastructure making. The focus shifts from the tunnel as object, as a piece of infrastructure to ‘infrastructuring' as a verb, as a process (Merriman 2016).

The collapse of the tunnel is a lens into three modes of Prague; or three modes of engagement between nature and technology: the ‘green Prague’ (nature is out there); the ‘safe Prague’ (nature is predictable); and ‘modern Prague’ (nature must be tamed). Through an ANT methodology the paper maps the practices that allow us to account for the active participation of experts and non-experts ‘who engage with the multiple modes' (Yaneva 2015) of the project in question and that realize the many worlds of the tunnel and the city.

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