12 Oct 2018

The Infrastructural Bridge: Methodological Devices and Conceptual Tools across Urban and Rural Divides

Roundtable participation at the Madison Conference on South Asia, 15:45–17:30, room D240 - 1

Galen Murton


Round Table session #2, chaired by Mabel Gergan, with Katharine Rankin, Pushpa Hamal, Mabel Gergan, and Galen Murton.

We study roads and pipes, fences and dams. Too often, our conversations proceed through academic and social channels that follow the flows of urban studies or rural contexts, but not often both together. There is much to learn from those on the other side of this (false) divide, and that's the intention of this session. Infrastructure gives us a powerful point of common reference, within the geographically contextual space of South Asia. Rather than presentations of what we study, this roundtable will instead examine and share how we study infrastructure. Beyond topics of empirical research and seeing infrastructure as a kind of (convenient) metaphorical bridge, our session will ask and answer the following kinds of questions: in what ways do we approach infrastructure both conceptually and methodologically (and at what scale)? What analytical frameworks do we use to make sense of our infrastructural studies? And, moreover, how can we use infrastructure to highlight and translate new research tools and approaches for and from one another across rural and urban places in South Asia? Short presentations will include, but are not limited to: - Asking how infrastructure in Pakistan's high mountain areas both connects and disconnects - Discussing the everyday meanings and processes associated with the infrastructure of hydropower projects in Northeast India's South Asian borderland - Approaching 'mobilities as method' and how to employ frames of 'mobility and containment' to analyze data generated through mobile fieldwork of new road systems in the Nepal Himalaya - Examining infrastructure as territorialized socio-political relations and therefore as a site for place-based and ethnographically sensible research on local/national/global political economies.

Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany
martin.saxer@lmu.de | +49 89 2180 9639

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