Between the concrete and the imaginary
Maria Nielsen (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
Brazil is currently experiencing rapid infrastructural changes in order to accommodate the World Cup. I explore the uneven effects of such a project and question the idea of interconnectedness, by focusing on how the new roads crisscross an urban area, and how people relate (or not) to the changes.
Paper long abstract:
Brazil is currently experiencing rapid infrastructural changes. The two upcoming events, the World Cup and the Olympics, are restructuring urban life. Based on long-term fieldwork in North East Brazil in the urban periphery of the city Recife, this paper explores how the infrastructural changes are experienced. The new stadium for the 2014 World Cup is visible from some of my informants' porches. But change does not seem to have arrived in the neighbourhood, even though profound changes are taking place in front of people's eyes. This paper asks how people in a neighbourhood of a mix of informal and formal housings relate (or not) to the transformation of the built environment? I will question the idea of interconnectedness, by following the new network of roads. Focusing on the uneven effects of infrastructural projects, I examine which places are connected and which are not. Does new roads necessarily pertain connectedness? Lack of water, insufficient sanitation and roads in bad condition shape everyday life in the urban periphery. Nevertheless, posters of new urban areas bear a promise of a different future with them. How does this confluence with plans and imaginaries of people living on the edge of infrastructural changes? This paper seeks to explain how infrastructure orders things and people in a concrete way, but at the same time might create possible futures in a figurative manner. It is an exploration of the unintended effects of infrastructures. Dust, traffic jams and rising house prices are all consequences people have to face.
The anthropology of infrastructure: ordering people, places, and imaginaries