DIAGNOSE! Interview with 

#1 – Ash Amin

By: Johanna Westermann & Edouard Barthen

DIAGNOSE! Interview Series

Published on August 12, 2020

Prof. Ash Amin // Department of Geography, University of Cambridge 

Ash Amin is Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge and is interested in the geographies of modern living and the effects of political and economic transformation processes on situated life. He is known for his research, in which he regards cities as relationally constituted, as well as his critical view on systemically-produced economic and social inequalities. His most recent works include "European Union and Disunion", "Releasing the Commons" and "Seeing Like a City", co-authored by Nigel Thrift. In the latter, Thrift and Amin promote a new perspective on how we may understand the city, with urban life governed by socio-technical systems––the machinery of the urban.

In the first part of our interview with Ash Amin, we explore the infrastructures which simultaneously facilitate and determine our daily lives, from perspective of socio-technical systems. We debate how infrastructures and their outputs provide vital resources for city dwellers; and which differences can be drawn between cities in the global north and the global south, before discussing the role of infrastructures in shaping socio-economic inequalities. Special attention is given to the relevance of public space as an infrastructure for implicit and explicit social negotiation. Lastly, we look at the implications of two specific cases of infrastructural transformation—the former Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin and a Europe-wide high-speed train network—as we pose the question of how to navigate between incremental, informal city making and top-down governmental planning of large scale infrastructures. 

Length: 60:00 min 

Defining the Concepts of City and Infrastructure

[00:01:55] Seeing like a City vs. Seeing like a State 
[00:06:34] The Concept of Socio-technical Systems 
[00:07:19] Politics of Infrastructure

Infrastructural Rights

[00:12:31] Access to Infrastructure 
[00:19:35] Opportunities of Infrastructure Use
[00:24:09] The Role of Public Space

Infrastructures in Transformation

[00:43:26] Infrastructural Adaptions
[00:49:23] Tempelhof Airfield 
[00:53:11] European High-speed Train Network


[EN]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 was initiated by the Habitat Unit in cooperation with Projekte International and provides an open stage and platform for multiple contributions of departments and students of the Technical University Berlin and beyond. The project is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

[DE]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 wurde initiiert von der Habitat Unit in Kooperation mit Projekte International und bietet eine offene Plattform für Beiträge von Fachgebieten und Studierenden der Technischen Universität Berlin und darüberhinaus. Das Projekt wird von der Robert Bosch Stiftung gefördert.

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