Do anthropologists know they are not all that helpful in this definitional debate over "infrastructure"? Like the politicos arguing for a minimalist definition, anthros (for the most part) have relied on the same extensional strategy: what (now/former) public works are included?
This makes it difficult to see beyond the usual suspects: especially bridges, roads, pipes, dams, reaching out to privatized cables, power & communication grids, etc. The political opponents of Biden's infrastructure plan are also relying on this sense of what the term covers.
This is where the relational definition—of something acting in a supporting relation to something else—could be of more use. So instead of getting the inevitable pushback when you try to push past the common sense extension, aka, . . .
you lead w/ what needs support, then the underlying things/processes/labors that supports it. When the pundits keep dragging you back to their extensive dictionary definition, you reframe to the properties of the relation embedded in the canonical examples.

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More from @timelfen

9 Apr
OK, some summary & commentary on this article, coming from an anthropological-inflected point-of-view (amongst, but not quite of, the anthros, if you will).
Murphy, @jerolmack, & @DeAnnaYSmith are trying to understand how critiques of ethnography—from its representational fidelity to the power-laden relations between researchers & subjects—intersect w/ new data gathering & sharing technologies, & the effects of online social life.
The authors specifically narrow their focus to the expectation that ethnographies “contributes to cumulative social science,” so the main issues tackled are epistemological (justification) as limited by the ethical (protection of research subjects).
Read 21 tweets
10 Aug 18
I've been keeping tabs on @Metadata2020, a cross-sector standards-setting & best-practices initiative. Important work. That said, I'm fascinated by the rhetoric employed to explain it. +
We've never had (or will have) complete, open, interoperable metadata. Research is not being stymied. More widely shared metadata standards & practices, by whatever degree, will help *enable* research. To say it is being stymied is to assume the world of the regulative ideal. +
This same rhetorical move is used in arguments for open access as well. It's a nifty way of shifting focus from who/what enables or underlies the circulation of data & documents to who/what is blocking their seemingly natural condition of unhindered flow. +
Read 4 tweets

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