Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space

Keller Easterling. Verso, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78168-587-7
Easterling (Organization Space and Enduring Innocence), an architect and Yale professor, offers an intelligent, even revelatory examination of the invisible “rules governing the space of everyday life,” the “operating system” of the built environment that she has coined the “infrastructure space.” Analyzing the development and effects of free trade zones, broadband distribution, and quality control standards, she draws on Marshall McLuhan’s maxim “the medium is the message” to consider what an infrastructural matrix is “doing rather than what it is saying.” The book aims to uncover how corporations bypass governments and exert power through urban architecture’s hidden “software” in insidious ways that often contradict its benign and banal public face. Easterling challenges architects and urban planners to reconsider their modus operandi and follow the example of James Oglethorpe, who founded Savannah, Ga., in the 18th century not with a master plan, but rather by establishing a flexible protocol that “modulated the relative proportions of public, private, open, and agricultural space.” Controversially and entertainingly, she also urges social justice and environmental activists to increase their effectiveness by manipulating infrastructure space. This task can be accomplished using “techniques that are less heroic, less automatically oppositional, more effective and sneakier,” such as gossip, compliance, comedy, misdirection, and distraction. Easterling’s fresh, lucid thoughts on the true function of public space have resulted in a scholarly but surprisingly accessible book. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 11/04/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-78478-364-8
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