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Grounded in the writings of AbdouMaliq Simone and the theoretical project of Southern urbanism, the concept of “people as infrastructure” has radically reframed how we understand and study urban infrastructure as a modality of social practice. This paper begins by appraising the impact that people as infrastructure has had on urban geography and critical infrastructure studies before moving to consider how notions of infrastructural violence can deepen our understanding of the concept’s content and context. In particular, this intervention brings people as infrastructure into dialogue with the Marxist concept of “dead labor” to bridge experiential and structural epistemic readings of infrastructure as human practice and as products of social labor. Doing so, I suggest, provides a novel conceptual and political terrain to: (1) highlight the “living labor” underpinning the production of socio-technical systems; and (2) think through how urban lives and livelihoods may transgress the “infrastructural alienation” generated by capitalist urbanization.
Addie, Jean-Paul, "Urban Life in the Shadows of Infrastructural Death: From People as Infrastructure to Dead Labor and Back Again" (2021). USI Publications. 53.