Human/istic Infrastructure talk at UCLA, Nov 15 (abstract)

Human/istic Infrastructure
The Information Studies Colloquium, UCLA
November 15, 2018

In a recent Australian infrastructure roadmap, research infrastructure is described as the “leaps that remake the world”. Since the mid-1990s we have seen the emergence of ‘research infrastructure’ as a framework, which is now an important factor in allocating resources, controlling academic work and imagining futures. These futures are often technocentric, standardized and driven by data. The infrastructural imaginary, whether applied to research infrastructure or to civic infrastructure (such as smart cities), is also conspicuously free of humans.

Humanistic infrastructure, as outlined in policy documents and reports, often contributes to making infrastructure a refuge from practices and perspectives that are central to humanistic work, including the value of interpretation and criticality, and categories such as power, gender and race. I argue that humanistic infrastructure – inside and outside the academy – must be based on humanistic and human values, and that we need to be critical and constructive at some time.

My work is practice based, and I will draw on my own experience of building/changing infrastructure and being involved in policy making, as well as material from my ongoing study of humanistic infrastructure and the rise of an infrastructure regime, including case studies of humanities centers and academic events.

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