47.4 - Rethinking Infrastructures and Ecology

Special Issue – Philipp Degens, Iris Hilbrich & Sarah Lenz (Eds.): Ruptures, Transformations, Continuities. Rethinking Infrastructures and Ecology.

This HSR Special Issue takes multiple ecological crises as the point of departure to connect discourses on sustainability and infrastructures. It discusses the preservation, development, or disorder of infrastructures by different actors and practices against the background of specific imaginaries of sustainability. The contributions shed light on how social science discourses on sustainability might profit from integrating an infrastructural perspective that considers material and immaterial components. They demonstrate how ecological crises irritate conventional thinking about infrastructures: they make visible the fragility and destructiveness of fossil infrastructures. Some contributions focus explicitly on the analytical concepts that give the volume its title, such as crises and ruptures, transformations, or continuities. Other contributions focus on cross-cutting dimensions such as more-than-human entanglements or temporality. Moreover, some of the contributions analyze infrastructures in specific areas such as energy, justice, welfare, and money. The level of analysis ranges from local to supranational and global to planetary. Focusing on the planetary dimensions of the ecological crisis adds particular complexity to the infrastructural analysis.

An ecological perspective fundamentally irritates the view of infrastructure, as traditional concepts no longer manage to contribute to necessary planetary solutions. The multiple crises show that infrastructures will and should receive special attention in the social sciences and humanities in the future. To shed light on these complex entanglements the contributions all explore the question of what it means to analyze infrastructures in the Anthropocene.