Ethnography is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about urban infrastructures. Infrastructure is more often considered the domain of planners, civil engineers and policy-makers. However, the Sheri Lynn Gibbings’ SSHRC funded project Urban Infrastructures and Informal Sovereignties: Understanding 20th Century Politics uses ethnography as the central methodological approach to uncover the changing dynamics between urban residents, infrastructures and political processes. Focusing on two large Indonesian cities, this project investigates the experience of the changing organization of transportation infrastructure from the perspective of drivers and passengers. By using an ethnographic approach, this project privileges the personal experiences and the voices of locals, documenting the ways that struggles over transportation infrastructures are shaping how city residents experience differential citizenship and how various groups gain power and stake claim to their rights in the city.
Urban Infrastructures and Informal Sovereignties is the first in a series of projects about infrastructures conducted in partnership with the Ethnography Lab at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
Check out our website at: http://urbaninfrastructures.com/