Infrastructure and Aesthetics in the Global South (ASLE 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
February 11, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Rebecca Oh / ASLE 2022 (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment)
contact email: 

This session seeks papers that attend to the affordances of infrastructure for aesthetics and of aesthetics for infrastructure in postcolonial/global South literature. We aim to explore infrastructure's own aesthetic capacities, the ways in which built forms and their materials produce specific aesthetic effects and social uses, or the ways in which infrastructure makes aesthetic perception available to social practice. In turn we are interested in the way aesthetic qualities like form, genre, reception, plot, narrative, or medium are themselves infrastructural and shape encounters with infrastructure.

Postcolonial standpoints dispute the common claim that infrastructure is invisible and made to be overlooked. Across the global South infrastructure is often erratic, sublimely visible, hopeful, dangerous, or frustrating, and therefore subject to constant aesthetic attention. We invite papers that attend to the aesthetic and material life of infrastructure, and which trace the mixed eddies of exposure, risk, mobility, oppression, disappointment, and hope that swirl around global South infrastructures.

The possibilities and challenges posed by infrastructure are especially urgent in the global South’s megacities, where dire climate effects of the future-now and the injustices of neo/colonial extractivism meet at staggering scales. Yet the environmental humanities has rarely turned to cities, let alone global South megacities like Lagos or New Delhi, as sites of concern. We call thus for a watershed or a turning point in our thinking on infrastructure, for neither urban centers nor infrastructure can continue to be overlooked, and global South cities least of all. As we become an urban species for the first time in history, we must consider infrastructure as the distributive, organizing, connecting, separative, and structuring forms which mediate life and death in the Anthropocene.

Papers may consider but are not limited to:

  • Genre as infrastructure, infrastructure as genre
  • Narrative infrastructures and trajectories
  • Infrastructural politics and access to infrastructure
  • Infrastructural perspectives, focalization, or points of view
  • Relationships between infrastructural, aesthetic, and political in/visibility
  • How color, sound, size, texture, or material mediate infrastructure
  • Transportation or connective infrastructure
  • infrastructure as individual objects or systems
  • Waste, sewage, and sanitation infrastructure
  • Food infrastructures
  • Housing infrastructures and slums
  • Cultural histories of infrastructure

Depending on the number of accepted submissions, this session will be either a panel or a roundtable. Please send abstracts of 300 words and a brief biography to Rebecca S. Oh ( by 11 February, 2022.