The Workmen’s Circle
247 West 37th St, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018
June 05 — June 26, 2018
What does it take to build an infrastructural system? What kind of norms do infrastructures enforce, and what kinds of people do they allow to thrive? What happens when infrastructure starts to break down, or proves inadequate in the face of disaster? What can asking questions about everyday infrastructures teach us? And what kind of world do they make possible? This class pulls back the curtain to reveal the people, processes, and values that shape the infrastructures of modern life, and how these systems simultaneously provide opportunities for, and place constraints, upon social life. Course readings will examine many kinds of infrastructural systems, with an emphasis on built environments and digital infrastructures. We will read canonical theorists such as James Scott, Jane Jacobs, Langdon Winner, and Bruno Latour alongside more contemporary work on digital infrastructures, including work by Tarleton Gillespie and Zeynep Tufekci on the politics of digital platforms and Virginia Eubanks’ and Safiya Noble’s work on how algorithms reinforce oppression in contemporary societies.
This seminar offers crucial insights for everyone interested in how built environments shape our social lives, including designers, scholars, artists, city planners, engineers, entrepreneurs, and interested citizens of every stripe.