Infrastructures, Conflict and Struggle

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

The module offers Masters students in the Department of Politics an opportunity to engage with the a range of debates surrounding the politics of infrastructures in a variety of manifestations prevalent in Africa and Asia.  The module themes include the role of class differentiation and race in the making of infrastructures, the specific histories of conflict and struggle surrounding access to basic infrastructures such as electricity, water, and sewage, and the ways in which transport infrastructures have been crucial in remaking societies and politics in Asia and Africa

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

In addition to encouraging general skills in communications and research, the module will advance general knowledge in International Relations, Middle East Politics and other areas where the politics of access to basic social and political goods are considered necessary


  • Two-hour seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  • Introduction to the course
  • Infrastructure, class, race, gender
  • Construction and destruction
  • Electricity and water
  • Communications (undersea telegraph and internet and data centres
  • Rail and roads
  • Maritime and air transport
  • Shit and other waste
  • Energy transport
  • Dams and canals

Method of assessment

2 x assignments:

Assignment 1: 1500 words worth 40% of the total mark

Assignment 2: 3500 words worth 60% of the total mark

Suggested reading

  • Hannah Appel, Arthur Mason, Michael Watts, eds., Subterranean Estates: Life Worlds of Oil and Gas
  • Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
  • Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century
  • Deborah Cowen, The Deadly Life of Logistics
  • Nicole Starosielski, The Undersea Network
  • Stephen Ramos, Dubai Amplified
  • Ronen Shamir, Current flow: The Electrification of Palestine
  • On Barak, Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt
  • Dominique Laporte, History of Shit
  • Stephen Graham, and S. Marvin, Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules