This essay reviews three edited volumes published recently in the field of infrastructure studies: The Promise of Infrastructure edited by H. Appel, N. Anand and A. Gupta, Repair Work Ethnographies: Revisiting Breakdown, Relocating Materiality edited by I. Strebel, A. Bovet and P. Sormani, and Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene, edited by K. Hetherington. The first of the volumes is an inspiring collection of chapters discussing how theory making and ethnographic practice change when objects such as roads, water pipes or bridges become per se objects of anthropological engagement. The second volume gathers detailed accounts of maintenance and repair practices and analyses them as situated entanglements between humans, objects and knowledges. In the last volume, the contributing authors explore the rise of the Anthropocene in social sciences as a useful moment to focus on the blurriness of the conceptual distinction between nature and infrastructure, and humans and their environment.
Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi is Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Zurich and head of the project ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China's Inner Asian Borders (https://roadworkasia.com/). She graduated in China Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland and completed her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Her regional expertise centres on the People's Republic of China and the Sino–Central Asian borderlands. Her recent research explores the nexus of transport infrastructure, bureaucracy and environmental engineering in China's arid Northwest.