Paper Assignment Directions
This short research paper will draw on your personal experiences to un-naturalize (i.e. critically analyze or complicate) an infrastructure project in a place you’re familiar with. You will choose an infrastructure project (it can be a historic one, one that already exists, or one that is in the works), give a description of its purpose and the actors behind its emergence, then give an analysis of the project using our analytics and methods of analysis. The paper should be 4-5 pages long (double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, 1” margins). The paper is worth 30% of your grade.
To choose a topic, use our criteria for hard infrastructure as a starting point. If what you’re interested in doesn’t overlap very much with those criteria, it will likely be a series of intellectual hoops to justify the topic–energy that would be better put to use analyzing something!
I encourage you to pick a system that isn’t too big (i.e. every road in China), unless you have a narrow and specific quality you’re trying to understand more of. Narrow a topic along those lines to the specific road expansion of a specific region, for example.
The paper only has a few concrete requirements. These include:
Page length (4-5 pages)
Citing 2 academic articles
Including 2 primary sources
I will be looking for the following topics to be covered:
What is the relationship between politics, people, place, and the infrastructural system?
Who ushered the system into existence? Who benefits from it? Is there a power imbalance somewhere in the process of development and use? Does that power imbalance ever shift?
Does the system interact with ideas of nature, progress, the city, or the state? If not, what other kinds of ideologies are wrapped up in it?
If you are choosing an angle that involves questions of justice, what might justice look like around that system?
I will also be looking for an argument you’re making about the social relations of the project and why you think it exists in the way it does and has the effe