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Learning about urban water infrastructure by comparing Northern and Southern cities

Our colleague Timos Karpouzoglou, researcher at the division, will be presenting his work in the current project NATURE – Examining Nature-Society Relations Through Urban Infrastructure at the upcoming Higher Seminar on Monday 14 March from 1.15-2.45pm (Stockholm time). His work within the framework of this project is done together with Mary Lawhon, Sumit Vij, Pär Blomqvist, David Nilsson, and Katarina Larsen.

Timos has also published a new article. Together with Mary Lawhon and Gloria Nsangi Nakyagaba (University of Oklahoma, USA) he has written about the idea of a modern city and the reality in Kampala. It is published in Urban Studies. In the following we have copied the abstract. If you want to read the whole article, you can find it here.

Timos Karpouzoglou | Doctor of Philosophy | KTH Royal ...


The idea of the modern city continues to inform urban policies and practices, shaping ideas of what infrastructure is and how it ought to work. While there has long been conflict over its meaning and relevance, particularly in southern cities, alternatives remain difficult to identify. In this paper, we ‘read for difference’ in the policies and practices of sanitation in Kampala, purposefully looking for evidence of an alternative imaginary. We find increasing acceptance of and support for heterogeneous technological artefacts and a shift to consider these as part of wider infrastructures. These sanitation configurations are, at times, no longer framed as temporary placeholders while ‘waiting for modernity’, but instead as pathways towards a not yet predetermined end. What this technological change means for policies, permissions and socio-economic relations is also as yet unclear: the roles and responsibilities of the modern infrastructure ideal have limited significance, but new patterns remain in the making. Further, while we find increased attention to limits and uncertainty, we also see efforts to weave modernist practices (creating legible populations, knowing and controlling nature) into emergent infrastructural configurations. In this context, we consider Kampala not as a complete instantiation of a ‘modest’ approach to infrastructure, but as a place where struggles over infrastructure are rooted in competing, dynamic imaginaries about how the world is and what this means for the cities we build. It is also a place from which we might begin articulating a ‘modest imaginary’ that enables rethinking what infrastructure is and ought to be.

Working as a doctoral student in the Nuclearwaters-Project (ERC Consolidator Grant, PI Per Högselius), I focus on the nuclear history of Eastern Europe, especially on the territory of the former Soviet Union and its successor states. Furthermore, I investigate expert cultures in nuclear discourses, with a special interest in water-related issues in nuclear power plant decision-making. In addition, I am intrigued by the entanglement of the commercial, scientific and political interests concerning nuclear technologies, with its sometimes harsh consequences on human societies and the environment. Recently this interest has extended to energy systems as a whole in Eastern Europe, including fossil fuels and renewables. Questions of transition within international energy systems in the face of the climate crisis and recent political developments become more important, as my work progresses.

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