After reading Graham’s chapter on Urban Infrastructure and Political Violence and applying those concepts in our discussion Monday, I could not help but see parallels between the global use of infrastructure to commit violence and infrastructure being used to commit violence on a smaller, more local scale. Gentrification can be understood as violence against lower and middle-class groups who are often people of colour or immigrants.
This violence is made possible by the infrastructure of certain neighbourhoods and the nature of networks in flux. Areas of cities which were once occupied by factories and the homes of the workers nearby become ideal spaces for artists who need large space and affordable rent. These factors result in the neighbourhood becoming “trendy,” and the opening of cafes, restaurants, and shops ensues. Accessible public transit which had once been necessary for the low-income residents becomes convenient for the businesses which open and the tourists interested in visiting the area. The original residents who required the low rent and location are eventually forced out due to increased housing prices. As Graham mentions when referring to urban terrorism, these processes are made possible by “the infrastructures of today’s ‘fast capitalism'” (113).
Another parallel can be drawn in the perception of “progress” which is associated with “advanced” systems of infrastructure. While new and technological infrastructure creates the illusion of cities which function better and are easier to traverse, gentrified neighbourhoods with developing infrastructure are frequently regarded as improvements to the city’s culture.
It is also worth acknowledging that these kinds of violence are usually not seen as a result of the infrastructure systems involved. While there are clearly larger systems of politics and ideology at work, the infrastructure systems of cities certainly mediates the ways different kinds of violence can (and do) occur.