Infrastructure and Logistics

The multiple temporalities of infrastructure: Atomic cities and the memory of lost futures

Nuclear power plants, with their promise of boundless cheap energy, are archetypal figures of progress modernity. As we acknowledge the limits of industrial progress and growth-based capital, places for where the dream is now over, and whose inhabitants are finding ways of living through its transition, offer emergent practical ontologies based on maintenance, bricolage and necessity. Through the case study of the atomic city of Visaginas, Lithuania, this paper addresses the question of how to account for forms of life that emerge in the aftermath of high modernity. Here, infrastructures operate as residual cultural and material resources for practical ontologies and world building after progress. Building on emerging scholarship on the political aesthetics of infrastructure, I suggest that their ontological transition involves what Fisher describes as the ‘memory of lost futures’, a future anterior that, through the remains of material connections, technocultures and cultural memory, provide limits and conditions for emergent ways of living ‘after progress.’

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Volume 39 Issue 3

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