Panel 28

The politicization of infrastructures. European transformations in the name of geopolitics, security, and crisis.

Organizers: Benedict Lang; Jan-Hendrik Passoth; Silvan Pollozek

European University Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

Topics: Sociomaterialities of conflict and peace; Methodological challenges in a more-than-human world; Governance of and by data infrastructures; Sociotechnologies of (in)secure worlds to come

Keywords: Geopolitics, security, crisis, politicization, infrastructures

Already in dealing with the pandemic, but even more so with the Russian war in Ukraine, infrastructures in Europe became a focus point of public and political debates. From underwater cables and pipelines to electricity or data infrastructures, infrastructures are now finally prominently discussed in terms of geopolitics, vulnerability and threats. In a breathtaking way, huge investments in new projects, hectic construction work, and the (re)assessment of critical infrastructure and emergency plans hint to the many attempts and interventions of states actors in the name of security and crisis.

This is all the more remarkable - and concerning - given that infrastructures are shaped not by governments and parliaments alone, but also by experts and committees, associations and citizen initiatives. Infrastructures have development lifecycles and roll out schedules and are often interdependent with other Infrastructures as well. They grow spatially and thus intervene into and reconfigure many different regional ecologies. And they are not built de novo but need to be built upon installed bases. By this, infrastructures take shape at many sites and in and through many arenas and publics, where many voices and concerns are assembled.

In this panel, we ask how the politicization of infrastructure in terms of security, geopolitics, and crisis (re)configure arenas and publics, affect their development, implementation, and reassessment, and transform Europe in various forms and on various scales.

It invites contributions that focus on topics (among others), such as

  • the shifting of boundaries between the "technological" and the "political"
  • the (re)configuration of different arenas and voices of infrastructural development and implementation through politicization
  • which issues do (and do not) deserve credit
  • strategies and effects of polarization, scandalization, devaluation and silencing
  • imaginaries, visions, promises of infrastructures in the light of geopolitics, security, and crisis
  • the reassessment of infrastructure as critical, vulnerable, or outdated
  • roll-out of infrastructure projects on local, regional, national, and EU scale