Infrastructural politics amidst the coils of control

Blake Hallinan*, James N. Gilmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


From contaminated water pipes to social media manipulation to sinking cities, infrastructures increasingly appear at the heart of cultural, political, and environmental crises. As a technique of governance, infrastructures delegate control to systems and disperse power into the environment. This special issue argues that engaging with infrastructural politics requires new tactics and modes of analysis which take seriously the politics of articulation, everyday life, and meaning. The introductory essay situates the project of infrastructural politics within the critical and cross-disciplinary literature on infrastructure and the political tradition of Cultural Studies. We identify distinctive features of infrastructural politics, organized around the concepts of scale, formalization, and imaginary, that set forth the common concerns of the issue and raise questions for future research. Following this discussion, we introduce the essays of the issue, spanning topics that include emergency dispatch, automated music mastering, open pit coal mines, homeless encampments, police body cameras, and sand. Throughout, the issue is animated by a commitment shared among founding figures of Cultural Studies, activists, and abolitionists: the capacity to critically engage infrastructure in order to improve the lived conditions of culture.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)617-640
Number of pages24
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • control
  • imaginary
  • infrastructure
  • platform
  • sts
  • technology


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