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Becoming an Agricultural Growth Corridor

African Megaprojects at a Situated Scale

Serena Stein and Marc Kalina

Nacala. As part of the Nacala Development Corridor (NDC), a multi-sectoral infrastructural megaproject linking Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique, Malema sits at the nexus of regional developmental ambitions. Within its dusty and bustling central market, this

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Air in Unexpected Places

Metabolism, Design, and the Making of an ‘African’ Aircrete

Michael Degani

, colonial extraction and ecological violence. Infrastructure as metabolism At first glance, an ethnographic case study on a building material might seem at odds with a volume devoted to energy frontiers. Built structures, after all, are important

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The Freeway Journey

Landscape and Mobility in the Southern Auto Industry

John E. Mohr

automotive industry,” which has “long delivered the right resources and talent to help companies thrive.” 25 Observers put the total value of the state and local incentives in the deal at $410 million, which included property tax abatements, infrastructure

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Asta Vonderau

Drawing upon ethnographic data, this article investigates the effects of a new online campus management system in one of the largest universities in Germany. It shows the various ways in which this technological innovation influenced students', teachers' and administrative personnel's relations and everyday working practices and how it is influential in the reorganisation of university structures. The online management system is regarded as an important part of an emerging infrastructure of excellence, which materialises the changing understanding of qualitative studies and teaching. Findings show that the online management supports standardised and economised study, teaching and administrative practices and silences creativity and flexibility. However, these standardisations are negotiated and questioned by the actors involved.

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Andrey Vozyanov

Crises in urban electric transport infrastructure of Eastern and Southeastern Europe present not only a fruitful subject for historical, ethnographic, and sociological inquiry, but also contribute to two intersecting knowledge fields. First, to the multidisciplinary constellation of studies dedicated to failures of sociotechnical systems that I will refer to as disaster and crisis studies. And second, to social studies of urban transit in the former Socialist Bloc, a subfield within broader mobility and transport studies. In this text I will review the state of both these fields and then proceed to conceptualize the intersections between them, proposing historical anthropology as an integration tool. In the process I will occasionally refer to my fieldwork in Donbas, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2013, and eastern Romania since 2015.

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Carlos A. Rodríguez Wallenius


This article analyzes the extractivist and dispossession modalities in the Mexican neodevelopmental proposal to face the multiple crises accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the qualitative narrative method applied to social processes, four infrastructure and extractivist megaprojects are analyzed. Neodevelopmental policies of the current government insist on carrying out works as a strategy to create jobs, reactivate the economy, and promote well-being, especially for the southeast region with high rates of socioeconomic inequality. The findings point to an increase in investment and job creation and a rejection by various communities and organizations that consider that their ways of life are being threatened by the efforts of the neodevelopmental government to build megaprojects before and during the pandemic.


Este artículo analiza las modalidades extractivistas y de despojo en la propuesta neodesarrollista mexicana para enfrentar las crisis múltiples acentuadas por la pandemia de la COVID-19. Con el método cualitativo narrativo aplicado a procesos sociales, se analizan cuatro megaproyectos de infraestructura y extractivistas. Las políticas neodesarrollistas del gobierno actual insisten en realizar obras como una estrategia para crear empleos, reactivar la economía y fomentar el bienestar, especialmente para la región sureste con altos índices de desigualdad socioeconómica. Los hallazgos señalan un incremento en la inversión y en la generación de empleos pero también un rechazo de varias comunidades y organizaciones que consideran que sus formas de vida están siendo amenazadas frente a los esfuerzos del gobierno neodesarrollista por construir megaproyectos antes y durante la pandemia.


Cet article analyse les modalités extractivistes et de dépossession incluses dans la proposition néo-développementaliste mexicaine afin de faire face aux crises multiples accentuées par la pandémie de Covid-19. Avec la méthode narrative qualitative appliquée aux processus sociaux, quatre mégaprojets d'infrastructures et d'extraction sont analysés. Les politiques néo-développementalistes du gouvernement actuel insistent sur la réalisation de travaux comme stratégie pour créer des emplois, réactiver l'économie et promouvoir le bien-être, en particulier pour la région du sud-est qui connaît des taux élevés d'inégalités socio-économiques. Les résultats indiquent une augmentation des investissements et de la création d'emplois, mais aussi un rejet de la part de diverses communautés et organisations qui considèrent que leurs modes de vie sont menacés par les efforts du gouvernement néo-développementaliste pour construire des mégaprojets avant et pendant la pandémie.

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Carrie A. Rentschler

Young feminists use social media in order to respond to rape culture and to hold accountable the purveyors of its practices and ways of thinking when mainstream news media, police and school authorities do not. This article analyzes how social networks identified with young feminists take shape via social media responses to sexual violence, and how those networks are organized around the conceptual framework of rape culture. Drawing on the concept of response-ability, the article analyzes how recent social media responses to rape culture evidence the affective and technocultural nature of current feminist network building and the ways this online criticism re-imagines the position of feminist witnesses to rape culture.

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Liquid crystal and the A1

Densities of state from the perspective of a Montenegrin village

Klāvs Sedlenieks

In this paper I argue that the state is best imagined through the metaphor of a liquid crystal – a substance that, at the same time, is both structured and fluid. I combine several well‐established views on the state (as an entity that has structure, but that also needs movement), and demonstrate that the state comes into being not only through vertical (and hence hierarchical) activities, but also through multiple other attempts to build transparency and predictability. A three‐dimensional liquid crystal can be used as a model of the state that not only has structures shaped by multiple participants, but that also is partly an illusion where various centres only appear to group in a meaningful way. In the second half of the paper, I illustrate this liquid crystal metaphor of the state by using an ethnographic snapshot of Njeguši, a small village in Montenegro. Variously (un)successful attempts of villagers and other actors to shape the new road show how the liquid crystal areas are being initiated, sustained and interpreted, thus contributing to the shape the state is brought into being.

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Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi

Hannah Appel, Nikhil Anand and Akhil Gupta (eds), The Promise of Infrastructure . Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 264, 2018. Ignaz Strebel, Alain Bovet and Philippe Sormani (eds), Repair Work Ethnographies: Revisiting Breakdown

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The Hard Way

Volatility and Stability in the Brisbane River Delta

Veronica Strang

Abstract: Before European colonisation, the Brisbane River supported several indigenous language groups who, working with its natural variations in flow, were able to sustain stable hunter-gatherer lifeways for many millennia. In contrast, colonial settlers made strenuous efforts to control one of Australia’s largest and most unpredictable rivers, driven by aims to achieve social and material stability in what they saw as a hostile and adversarial environment. Part of the perceived threat was – and still is – the river’s ‘volatility’ and its tendency, from time to time, to send great surges of floodwater downstream. Brisbane’s contemporary inhabitants have had to consider how to engage with the non-human environment in ways that move beyond hard-line visions of command and control and embrace more convivial ideas about working with the river.

Résumé : Avant la colonisation européenne, la rivière Brisbane a assuré la subsistance de diverses populations indigènes qui, en travaillant avec les variations naturelles du courant, ont été en mesure de perpétuer un mode de vie chasseur-cueilleur pendant des siècles. A leur arrivée, les colons ont en revanche entrepris de maîtriser l’un des fleuves les plus imprévisibles d’Australie en aménageant le delta et en installant des barrages hydrauliques importants sur ses affluents. Ils ont ainsi mis en œuvre une vision particulière de l’ordre sur l’espace naturel, établi une cité portuaire autour du delta, l’ensemble étant guidé par un objectif de stabilité sociale et matériel contre ce qui était perçu comme un environnement hostile. Une dimension de la perception du danger était – et est toujours – la « volatilité » de la rivière et sa tendance, de temps en temps, à envoyer de très grandes quantités d’eau dans son embouchure, inondant ainsi la ville. Faisant écho à des situations similaires dans le monde, il s’est développé une contestation à la fois conceptuelle et matérielle de ces programmes d’ingénierie quand le contrôle qu’ils cherchent à garantir est rendu futile par la force hydraulique de la rivière.