Forum 2016 - Infrastructure Space - Detroit (Ruby Press)

35 34 The Production of Territory Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün Infrastructure, whose contemporary meanings, associations, and applications vary broadly, is a modern term that has been associated from early on with the production of territory. First having appeared in the English language by the early twentieth century in reference to the civil engineering works of the French railroads, the term was appropriated by NATO in the 1950s to refer to their multinational program of defensive installations implemented in Europe, and in- cluded not only physical installations (highways, bridges, railroads, airports, and military bases), but also facilities for communications, power, irrigation, and flood control, as well as warehousing, storage depots, fuel supplies, and the funding frameworks to enable these installations. 1 Thus, infrastructure is not only a modern term (tem- porally speaking), it is also a modern concept, referring not to any singular object or thing, but rather to an instrumentally designed, interrelated, heterogeneous system, or, to use the term coined by Michel Foucault, an apparatus . Moreover, it is inherently associated with geopolitics and with the production of territory. Critical geographer Stuart Elden has pointed out that the ety- mology of the term “territory” comes not only from the Latin word for earth, terre , but also from terrere , meaning “to frighten.” 2 Terri- tory is therefore inherently associated with acts of violence in the establishment and maintenance of boundaries: with inclusion and exclusion. 3 Further, territory is not an object, but rather is akin to Henri Lefebvre’s conception of space and the urban; it is more ac- cordingly understood as an outcome, or as a process that inscribes social relations upon a terrain. Territory is continually produced and reproduced through political technologies, through technologies of management and control, and through conflicts and contestations. 4 Infrastructure operates as one of the primary technologies of the territorial process, actively structuring and restructuring the geo- and biopolitical relations between groups of humans, and between humans and the environment. Tracing the etymologies of infrastructure and territory becomes productive in considering a number of things that are at stake with regard to contemporary territorial infrastructures. This is especially critical since societies across the globe now need to rethink and redesign infrastructural systems within the contexts of scarcity, se- curity, and risk, relative to the ambitions of becoming low carbon. There is a necessity for designers, planners, and policy-makers to be able to think and recognize the extent and calculus of infra- structure’s apparatus—and to be able to account for the agency and relations of its material properties, its institutional and govern- mental actors, and its circulatory flows and codes. Infrastructure is not a stable thing, but transforms over time. Infrastructures tend to increase in complexity and scope as cities and societies grow; they are continually augmented with new technologies, retrofitted with more precise capacities, extended to meet expanding needs, recod- ed through new legal parameters, institutional practices, or financial formulas, and appropriated by new institutional, governmental, and community actors. These transformations often happen piecemeal and in incremental ways, reshaping the systems from within. In many cases, contemporary bureaucracies compartmentalize elements of infrastructural systems into separate silos of governance and fund- ing, belying the cooperation and coordination needed to purposeful- ly transform urban infrastructures. Therefore, infrastructure studies