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Infrastructured lives: assembling politics and liveable life in contemporary Kenya


"The proposed project focuses on mega-infrastructures in contemporary Kenya and provides an ethnographically-grounded theoretical account of social and political geographies of contemporary mega-infrastructures. It accomplishes this by theorising how semiotic and material forms of mega-infrastructures – which by their nature produce space – simultaneously function as technologies of governance that articulate contested imaginaries of ""progress"" and ""development"", and, at the level of everyday practice, shape (im)possibilities of liveable life across uneven landscapes of contemporary Kenya. Through this theorisation of mega-infrastructures, I explore how, in the current neoliberal conjecture of capitalist development in the Global South, infrastructure is a verb and not a noun. It is not a symbol of ""development"" that states use in their attempt to achieve national prosperity. Instead, in the contemporary context of mega-projects, to infrastructure is to expose populations to multi-faceted forms of semiotic and material subjugation to state and capital power. Therefore, infrastructure as a process cannot be understood as externally imposed on populations; instead, the process of infrastructuring is a socially and politically mediated transformation of the body in and through state-directed mega-projects that reduce human beings to abstractions – such as citizens, beneficiary groups, or infrastructure users – which renders infrastructure as fundamental to the material and semiotic violence of the capitalist state. Theoretically, the proposed project draws on critical social theory – including the work of Theodor Adorno, Judith Butler, Francis Fanon, and Achille Mbembe – in relation to geographical scholarship on infrastructure, and through these original theoretical explorations, the account of infrastructured lives provides a novel contribution to critical scholarship on political and social geographies of infrastructure."

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Spui 21
1012WX Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 175 572,48