Capital, Value and Infrastructure

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSLS2SC2154

Semester and Year Offered: Winter 2019

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Preeti Sampat

Email of course coordinator:psampat[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: NA

Aim: This course explores the relations of capital, value and infrastructure theoretically and empirically by bringing infrastructure studies in relation with the analysis of capital and value. Where does value originate? How do capitalist relations give rise to value? What is the role of infrastructure in the accumulation and circulation of surplus value, or capitalist development? Building on classical analyses of capitalism, the readings will develop a comprehensive understanding of the capitalist production of space and society through infrastructure development. While emphasising the plurality of approaches in infrastructure studies, the course will equip students to analyse hegemonic infra-structures of capital.


  1. To equip students with a foundational knowledge of the key theoretical, conceptual and empirical materials that connect capitalist relations, value creation and infrastructure development historically, and in contemporary times.
  2. To introduce students to the emergent field of infrastructure studies and the plurality of approaches it encompasses.
  3. To expose students to a diverse range of disciplinary approaches, empirical contexts and methodological tools through readings, lectures and project work.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify key theorists and terms in Infrastructure Studies
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of key texts and topics related to studies of capital, valueand infrastructure
  3. Apply academic arguments and knowledge to field settings and incorporate empirical materials in academic discussions.
  4. Apply research skills to source materials for class presentations, assessments and papers.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course is structured over five modules that cover a range of theoretical and empirical materials. The course also involves a field visit to an infrastructure development site.

Module 1: Thinking About Infrastructure

This module maps the epistemological and ontological premises of infrastructure studies as an emerging field of investigation.

Module 2: Capital and Value in Relation

This module develops the foundational theoretical and conceptual linkages between capital, value and accumulation.

Module 3: Capital and Value in Circulation

This module analyzes particular infrastructure projects historically across the globe, in relation to diverse state and policy orientations and introduces students to an array of methodological approaches.

Module 4: Fieldtrip to an Infrastructural Location

As a field-based study, this module exposes students to a particular infrastructural setting and the historical, social, political and economic relations around it. In Winter 2019 for instance, a two-day field trip to the Mahindra World City Jaipur was undertaken and entailed meeting concerned officials, developers, industry representatives, farmers and other local residents around the Mahindra World City Jaipur Special Economic Zone.

Module 5: Everyday Lives of Infrastructure

This is a student-driven module that equips students to grapple with the everyday lives of infrastructure through case studies for group work and individual research. Students are divided into groups for project work along pre-selected themes. They identify reading materials in consultation with the course instructor and develop a group presentation on the chosen theme. Each student further develops an individual term paper based in a related area that engages course readings and additional materials, in consultation with the instructor.

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Attendance and In-class participation 25%
  2. Field visit assessment 20% (3rd week March)*
  3. Group Project Presentations 20% (1st week April)
  4. End-Term paper 35% (3rd week April)

* Field visit will be arranged by the Course Coordinator

Reading List:

  1. Carse, Ashley. 2016. “Keyword: Infrastructure– How a Humble French Engineering Term Shaped the Modern World.” In Infrastructures and Social Complexity: A Routledge Companion. Penny Harvey, Casper Bruun Jensen, and Atsuro Morita, eds. London and New York: Routledge.
  2. Mcfarlane, C. and S. Graham. 2014. Infrastructural Lives. New York: Routledge. (Selection)
  3. Larkin, B. 2013. ‘The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.’ Annual Review of Anthropology.42: 327-343.
  4. Nolte, A. 2016. 'Political infrastructure and the politics of infrastructure.' City. 20(3): 441-454.
  5. Wilson, A. 2016. 'The Infrastructure of Intimacy.' Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 41(2).
  6. Howe, C., J. Lockrem, H. Appel et. al. 2015. 'Paradoxical Infrastructures: Ruins, Retrofit, and Risk.' Science, Technology, & Human Values. 1-19.
  7. Simone, A. M. 2004. 'People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg.' Public Culture. 16(3): 407-29.
  8. Marx, K. 1990 [1894]. Capital Vol. I. London: Penguin. (Selections)
  9. Marx, K. 1993. Grundrisse. London: Penguin. (Selections)
  10. Lefebvre, H. 2003 [1970]. The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. (Selections)
  11. Harvey, D. 1982. The Limits to Capital. New York: Verso. (Selections)
  12. Smith, Neil. 1984. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space. Athens: The U. of Georgia Press.
  13. Gidwani, V. 2008. Capital, Interrupted: Agrarian Development and the Politics of Work in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (Selections)
  14. Gilmore, R.W. 2007. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California. Berkeley: University of California.
  15. Coronil, F. Coronil, F. 1997. The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Selection)
  16. Mitchell, T. 2001. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Selection)
  17. Gidwani, V. 2008. Capital, Interrupted: Agrarian Development and the Politics of Work in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (Selection)
  18. Cross, J. 2014. Dream Zones: Anticipating Capitalism and Development in India. London: Pluto Press. (Selection)
  19. Day, A. and M. Schneider. 2017. 'The end of alternatives? Capitalist transformation, rural activism and the politics of possibility in China.' The Journal of Peasant Studies. DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2017.1386179
  20. Searle, L. G. 2016. Landscapes of Accumulation: Real Estate and the Neoliberal Imagination in Contemporary India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Selection)
  21. Levien, M. 2018.Dispossession Without Development: Land Grabs in Neoliberal India. New York: Oxford University Press.(Selections)
  22. Sampat, P. 2017. ‘Infrastructures of Growth, Corridors of Power: The Making of the Special Economic Zones Act 2005.’ Political Economy of Contemporary India. In Motiram, S. and R. Nagaraj (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  23. Jenkins, R., L. Kennedy and P. Mukhopadhyay. 2014. Power Policy and Protest: The Politics of India's Special Economic Zones. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. (Selections)


  1. Harvey, D. 2001. Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. New York: Routledge.(Selection)
  2. Schnitzler, A. 2013. 'Traveling Technologies: Infrastructure, EthicalRegimes, and the Materiality of Politics in South Africa.' Cultural Anthropology. 28(4): 670–693.
  3. Chakravorty, S. 2013. The Price of Land: Acquisition Conflict Consequence. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. (Selections)

4. Large Dams

  • Nilsen, Alf. 2010. Dispossession and Resistance in India: The River and the Rage. New York: Routledge.
  • Baviskar, A. 1995. In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

5. Urban Water Supply

  • Björkman, L. 2015. Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai. Durham: Duke University Press. (Selection)
  • Anand, N. 2017. Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai. Durham: Duke University Press. (Selection)


  • Chatterjee, E. 2014. ‘Power hungry: the state and the troubled transition in Indian electricity.’ In Harriss-White B. and J. Heyer (eds.). Indian Capitalism in Development. New Delhi: Routledge.
  • Mishra A, G. Sarangi and S. Wadehra. 2016. ‘Off-grid Energy Development in India.’ Economic and Political Weekly. 51(22): 105-14.


  • Sampat, P. 2016. 'Dholera: The Emperor's New City.' Economic and Political Weekly.
  • Ghertner, A. 2015. Rule By Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi. New York: OUP. (Selection)


  • Kundu, A. and A. Kumar. ‘Housing for the Urban Poor?’ Economic and Political Weekly. 52(52): 105-10.
  • Kumar. A. 2016. ‘India’s Residential Rental Housing.’ Economic and Political Weekly. 51(24): : 112-20


  • Khera, R. 2013. ‘A 'Cost-Benefit' Analysis of UID.’ Economic and Political Weekly. 48(5): 13-5.
  • Rao, U. 2013. ‘Biometric Marginality: UID and the Shaping of Homeless Identities in the City. Economic and Political Weekly. 48(13): 71-7.