Prof. Dr. Alison L. Bain
Chair in the Geographies of Inclusive Cities
Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning
Discussant: Christoph Mager, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Infrastructure is definitive of cities, intimately embedded in their constant change – their expansion and densification, their sprawl and contraction, their construction and reconfiguration. In addition to reconfiguring energy, water, sewage, solid waste, transportation, and communication systems to address persistently complex societal issues and reshape urban futures, infrastructure is also cultural. This lecture focuses on the cultural infrastructure that supports practices of producing, performing, consuming, and collecting culture, to affirm the centrality of culture to the imagination, mediation, and constitution of cities both in the present and into the future. It illustrates how cultural infrastructure is multi-faceted and relationally embedded in different material and socio-economic structures and social practices that undergird cities and city-making around the world. As cultural institutions and artifacts, this infrastructure might appear inert and fixed within local geographies and histories, but it is in the often-uncomfortable tension between obduracy and change where artistic and prosaic cultural practices unfold, creating urban imaginaries of living otherwise.