Infra-demos: An Anthropology of Infrastructures and Democracy

About infra-demos

infra-demos: Socio-Technological Innovation, Infrastructural Participation and Democracy is an anthropological project that studies the relationships between infrastructures and innovative socio-technological forms of participation arising within the infrastructural gap (IG). infra-demos investigates the social dynamics and assesses the capacities  – and theoretical potentials  –  of such activities towards building societal resilience and transformative policies. Focusing empirically on Greece, it aims to extend the theoretical findings beyond the case.

IG emerged in the West after the political, social, economic ruptures of the 2008 crisis and refers to the difficulty of the State and private sector to sustain infrastructural networks. In 2015, the Global Economic Forum and Financial Times raised warnings about IG within  G20  countries. While  IG has affected the totality of infrastructural development, the most apparent results are in soft infrastructures (public services and welfare), related to a crisis of social reproduction.

In Europe, infrastructures are the realm wherein the state and the market materialize the majority of the democratic social contract.  Citizens therefore experience  IG as a challenge of the entire political paradigm.  Governments now promote notions of ‘Participatory  Society’  (NL)  or  ‘Big  Society’  (UK)  in  response to this crisis.  Yet, on a practical and theoretical level, infrastructures lie at the core of the debate.

Infra-demos explores the ways in which forms of governance and the dominant infrastructure paradigm are being reconfigured within the context of the IG in relation to how novel ways of civil participation emerge in Greece in times of crisis. Greece is at the center of the current Euro-crisis, giving rise to novel and innovative forms of civil activity focused on IG. The application of self-management and peer-to-peer practices — inspired  by the commons  and economic  solidarity — and  by using  digital  and other technological innovations, allow new crisis-resilient socio-technological systems to emerge.

infra-demos is a 5 years project having begun in September 2017. It is funded through a VIDI Innovative Research Talent grant of the Dutch Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) and it is hosted by the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije University Amsterdam.

The infra-demos team

Dimitris Dalakoglou
Dimitris is the Principal Investigator and director of infra-demos. He is the Professor of Social Anthropology at Vrije University Amsterdam. He is the director of the VU lab on Mobilitiy, Infrastructures, Sustainability and the Commons (MIS Lab). His books include  Critical Times in Greece (2018), The Road (2017)Crisis-scapes (2014), Roads and Anthropology (2014, 2012) and Revolt and Crisis in Greece (2011).  He was also an associate and advisory editor of the International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest.Yannis Kallianos
Yannis is the postdoctoral researcher of the Infra-demos project. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije University Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD in social anthropology from the University of St Andrews. His work has focused on the relationship between (de)legitimation, social contestation and political imagination in Greece. His research interests also explore the politics of public space, waste and infrastructure in Athens.Christos Giovanopoulos
Christos is PhD researcher of infra-demos. He is a PhD candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije University Amsterdam. He holds an MA from the University of Westminster, London, where he taught Media and Critical Theory as a visiting lecturer. Among other publications he has edited the books Democracy Under Construction: from the street to the squares and Loaded Cameras: Cinema and ’68.Ioannis Athanasiadis 
Ioannis is helping infra-demos to develop its quantitative datasets and its utilisation digital tools. He is Assistant Professor at the Information Technology group of Wageningen University. He teaches Data ManagementModels for ecological systems and Software engineering.  His research interests are about ecoinformatics, intelligent information systems, decision support systems, knowledge engineering, metadata and ontologies and machine learning. Since 2010, he serves as an Editor of Environmental Modelling and Software.Spyros Gerousis
Spyros is the audio-visual practitioner of infra-demos project. He holds an MA in Visual Anthropology, from the University of Manchester’s Granada Centre. His collaborative work Nosso Morro, (Brazil, 2016) has been featured in a number of ethnographic and documentary film festivals and was awarded the 2017 Student Krafta Doc Award. His first feature documentary Every Single Day (Greece, 2017) has been screened in festivals and was also released in cinemas but also was broadcasted by the Greek national tv network (ΕΡΤ 3).