Event Name Infrastructures In and Out of Time: anthropological reflections on promise, project and process
Start Date 18th Jan 2018 5:30pm
End Date 18th Jan 2018 6:30pm
Duration 1 hour

Drawing on an ethnographic study of road construction in Peru, the lecture will explore the complex temporality of infrastructural formation. The ambitions of local people, of engineering professionals and state agencies focus on the transformative promise of roads. This sense of promise connects diverse modes of anticipation, expectation and experience. These divergent temporal regimes include the anticipatory logics of statistical projection and logistical planning; the engagement with a project, a linear notion of material and social transformation; and the recognition that time as process is also the enduring condition of material things. This recognition of duration also acknowledges a mode of waiting that runs counter to the anticipation and urgency of project management. Thus even when contingency plans and risk management plans are in place, anticipation of the unexpected encourages the field engineer to exercise a non-directional (unplanned) curiosity with respect to the world as it is encountered.

Penny Harvey is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. Since 2012 she has held the position of Professor II in Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. She has done ethnographic fieldwork in Peru, Spain and the UK and published widely on politics and state practice, language and communication, technology, engineering, infrastructures and material politics. Recent publications include Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise (with Hannah Knox), Cornell University Press, 2015. Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion (edited with Hannah Knox and CRESC colleagues) Routledge, 2013. Infrastructure and Social Complexity (co-edited with Casper Bruun Jensen and Atsuro Morita), Routledge, 2017. She is finalizing a book with Deborah Poole on decentralization in Peru entitled Experimental States – and starting a new research project on decommissioning energy infrastructures, starting with the Sellafield nuclear site in the UK.