Alternative Futures with Dr Alejandro De Coss-Corzo

Reimagining: Repair

Friday 28 May 3.30pm-5.00pm
Online event 

As part of our Alternative Futures seminar series, we were delighted to host this online seminar with speaker Dr Alejandro De Coss-Corzo.  Alejandro is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bath, UK. His research has focused on the role that hydraulic infrastructures, and the work that sustains them, play in making and maintaining urban life in Mexico City.

Alejandro talked about the role of maintenance and repair labour in sustaining both infrastructures and the material, social, political, economic, and environmental relations that they articulate (Alda-Vidal et al., 2018; Denis & Pontille, 2014; Velho & Ureta, 2019). This body of work has highlighted the reproductive role of infrastructural labour, whether aiming to maintain a set of socio-material relations by going back to normal (Barnes, 2017; Graham & Thrift, 2007) or by fashioning normality as an ongoing, precariously achieved process (Baptista, 2019; De Coss-Corzo, 2020). Following analyses that emphasise the possibility of incremental change through infrastructural labour (Silver, 2014; Simone, 2018), this talk asks how we can rethink repair, and its adaptive logics, in bringing about alternative futures. It does so by looking at repair practices carried out by workers at the Mexico City public water utility (SACMEX), drawing on observations gathered over a one-year ethnographic research period there. More specifically, the talk argues that in the interstices created by decaying infrastructures, emergent repair practices can prefigure logics of more just and sustainable socio-environmental futures.

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First published: 28 May 2021