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Title: Infrastructures with a pinch of salt : comparative techno-politics of desalination in Chennai and London
Author: Ramesh, Niranjana
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 1314
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Infrastructures, being technological networks that form the structural and social scaffolding of cities, have been symbiotic with modern urban development. Building on their socio-technical character, this thesis seeks to understand the technological mediation of political formations and environmental knowledges that shape notions of urban sustainability. It takes as its point of departure the construction of reverse osmosis desalination plants to augment water supply in two cities across the global South and North – Chennai, India and London, UK. It uses the analytic of infrastructure to excavate the complex reasons as to why and how desalination plants came to be built in these cities. Over a period of 10 months, oral and documentary narratives were gathered from institutions, professionals and citizens involved in water supply and access in the two cities. Based on a comparative reading of these texts and ethnographic field notes, the thesis focuses on the state and engineering practices as significant determinants of urban techno-natures. It demonstrates that infrastructures provide a mode of articulating statehood through mediation between technology, nature and society. It traces how engineers and other water professionals, through their everyday work, socialise those water systems, cultivating popular environmental knowledges. Finally, through a narrative of the contestations faced by the desalination plants, the thesis shows that urban infrastructural transitions give rise to distinct political formations. As water becomes infrastructure engendering technological practices and shared knowledges over which political relations are forged, there are clear differences in how this is materialised in Chennai and London. Using Chennai as the point of reference to frame the themes and issues through which to explore the London case, the study identifies within those differences potential starting points for theory building from the global south.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available