Dr Jon Silver has recently published an article “Decaying infrastructures in the post-industrial city: An urban political ecology of the US pipeline crisis” in a special issue of Environment and Planning E journal on the theme of decay and repair.
Infrastructure is critical to the ways in which urban inequality is produced and experienced. Across US post-industrial contexts urban infrastructures are decaying, causing problems to the capacity of various systems to deliver essential resource flows for social reproduction. This paper examines the US pipeline crisis to understand why, how and with what effects infrastructure has undergone a process of physical decay, concentrated across inner-city areas. It uses a case study of Camden, New Jersey, a poor city in which infrastructure has undergone decades of neglect, privatisation and under-maintenance. This decay has created difficulties in sustaining a safe, universal and fully functioning infrastructure. To understand these dynamics, the paper advances an urban political ecology approach to examining these infrastructural geographies. It makes three key contributions.
First, it considers how to conceptualise decay and its effect on the urban circulations that have been enabled/disabled by infrastructure through the notion of unbounding. Second, given the highly segregated infrastructural experiences between a black city and white suburbs, the paper draws on recent geographic scholarship on racial capitalism, emphasising the role of race in the governing of infrastructure and in accounting for Camden’s conditions of decay. Third, the paper advances a relational theorisation that draws on concepts emanating from urban political ecology and associated research on infrastructure in cities of the global South. With the reported, widespread decay of infrastructures in global North, post-industrial contexts, a relational theorisation can draw on long-established vocabularies that challenge where we locate the ‘infrastructural South’ and prompt new political urban questions.
Access the article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2514848619890513