Written by:

Mary Lawhon, David Nilsson, Jonathan Silver, Henrik Ernstson and Shuaib Lwasa

First Published:

24 Aug 2017, 12:00 am


Thinking through heterogeneous infrastructure configurations

A new paper by Mary Lawhon, David Nilsson, Jonathan Silver, Henrik Ernstson and Shuaib Lwasa is now available online


Studies of infrastructure have demonstrated broad differences between Northern and Southern cities, and deconstructed urban theory derived from experiences of the networked urban regions of the Global North. This includes critiques of the universalisation of the historically–culturally produced normative ideal of universal, uniform infrastructure. In this commentary, we first introduce the notion of ‘heterogeneous infrastructure configurations’ (HICs) which resonates with existing scholarship on Southern urbanism. Second, we argue that thinking through HICs helps us to move beyond technological and performative accounts of actually existing infrastructures to provide an analytical lens through which to compare different configurations. Our approach enables a clearer analysis of infrastructural artefacts not as individual objects but as parts of geographically spread socio-technological configurations: configurations which might involve many different kinds of technologies, relations, capacities and operations, entailing different risks and power relationships. We use examples from ongoing research on sanitation and waste in Kampala, Uganda – a city in which service delivery is characterised by multiplicity, overlap, disruption and inequality – to demonstrate the kinds of research questions that emerge when thinking through the notion of HICs.

You can access and read the full article here