When infrastructures attack: The workings of disrepair in China

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ABSTRACT

Residents fighting eviction in China often come into intimate knowledge of the insidious workings of infrastructure. This is especially true as redevelopment disputes are increasingly mediated through Chinese reforms emphasizing “rule by law.” Such reforms have worked to attune citizens, as well as city developers, to more distributed forms of agency in what could be termed the “infrastructuralization” of state power. I suggest that it is through the ambiguous signs of infrastructural disrepair that disputes over redevelopment increasingly play themselves out in contemporary China. By tracking the mundane and material effects of disrepair in citizen-state struggles, I ultimately show how infrastructures operate not only in support of state projects of legibility but also to condition some surprising political sensibilities. [infrastructure, urban development, China, law, sensibility, materiality, state violence]

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