Anthropology of Infrastructure


While the anthropological study of infrastructure is a fairly recent and uncommon phenomenon in Japan, there has always been a strong interest in infrastructure among Foucault-inspired urban sociologists who emphasize the way infrastructures work as apparatuses to shape and orient people's lives. In contact with STS in the early 2000's, anthropologists began to see the more complex and unpredictable sides of their existence. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, and as is often mentioned, infrastructure suddenly became visible to scholars (see here). The following year, the KAKEN four-year project “Environmental Infrastructures: Comparative Ethnographic Study on Nature, Technology and Environmental Change” (PI Atsuro Morita) began. “The project aims at exploring complex interfaces between infrastructure and environment in proliferating international attempts to achieve sustainable management of global environmental changes.” The project connected many scholars through meetings and conferences, and the outcomes of the project can be seen in special journal issues such as “Infrastructuring Environments” in Science as Culture,Infrastructures as Ontological Experiments" in Ethnos, and the edited volume Infrastructures and Social Complexities (Routledge).


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Contributed date

July 13, 2018 - 6:46am

Critical Commentary

This text is about the current condition of anthropology of infrastructure in Japan.



Cite as

Miki Namba, "Anthropology of Infrastructure", contributed by Miki Namba, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 18 August 2018, accessed 22 March 2023.