International Journal of Communication Publishes a Special Section on Digital Infrastructure, Liminality, and World-Making Via Asia

International Journal of Communication Publishes a Special Section on Digital Infrastructure, Liminality, and World-Making Via Asia

Digital and “smart” infrastructures have been considered hallmarks of an ever more globalized future. They promise limitless, ubiquitous connectivity and radically inclusive data-driven governance that knows no outside. Yet how do these infrastructures remain invested with liminality? This Special Section on Digital Infrastructure, Liminality, and World-Making Via Asia, guest-edited by Rolien Hoyng, explores the role of liminality in infrastructural world-making at the very moment that the future of globalization appears less certain. Engaging the conjunction of imagined endings and beginnings, this special issue does not situate itself in Asia, per se, but traces infrastructures running “via Asia” that produce the spaces of Asia and beyond, its borders, and its extensions.  

The introduction outlines key dynamics of power and political possibility in digital infrastructure by discussing the “infrastructural politics of liminality.” The material multiplicity of infrastructures and the fact that they touch on something external that they do not fully control spur tensions and paradoxes of integration and disruption, convergence and excess. Infrastructural integration and data’s homolingualism should not be taken for granted but considered as sites of struggle. At every switch or extension, human and non-human, social and material forms of resistance can put smooth connectivity and infrastructural integrity in peril but also generate new socio-technical organizations.  

Eight authors explore various instances of liminality and their political import. They underscore boundaries and blockades in the logistical networks of both block trains and blockchains in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. They consider electronic waste processing and slow violence in the blind spots of our digitally surveilled world. They investigate the failure of smart city projects in India—which, however, does not stand in the way of extraction of value but gives way to financial and algorithmic speculation.  

Several authors unpack the coalescence and mutual affection between state power and digital infrastructure and the ways in which “leaky,” excessive communication is not simply liminal vis-a-vis state power but reinforces it through repression of dissent. Last, turning to political possibility, other authors explore socio-technical invention, in relation to food waste in Hong Kong, as well as tactical appropriation of security and logistical infrastructures by pro-refugee activists at the border of West Asia.  

We invite you to read these articles that published in the International Journal of Communication on June 7, 2021. Please Ctrl+Click on the article titles below for direct linking to the papers of interest. We look forward to your feedback! 


Digital Infrastructure, Liminality, and World-Making Via Asia: The Infrastructural Politics of Liminality—Introduction
Rolien Hoyng

On the Block Train: Rethinking Block Technologies on the YuXinOu Express
Tsvetelina Hristova, Brett Neilson, Ned Rossiter

Laboring in Electronic and Digital Waste Infrastructures: Colonial Temporalities of Violence in Asia
Evelyn Wan

Infrastructures of Extraction in the Smart City: Zones, Finance, and Platforms in New Town Kolkata
Ilia Antenucci

Gateways, Sieves, and Domes: On the Infrastructural Topology of the Chinese Stack 
Gabriele de Seta

(Dis)information Blackouts: Politics and Practices of Internet Shutdowns
Nishant Shah

Listening to Noise: Breadline—Food Rescue as System of Interruption
Daisy Tam

Resonant Ecologies: Reading Solidarity Transversally in the Mediterranean Sea
Monika Halkort

Larry Gross, Editor
Arlene Luck, Founding Managing Editor  
Kady Bell-Garcia, Managing Editor
Kasia Anderson, Managing Editor, Special Sections
Rolien Hoyng, Guest Editor

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