“The Politics and Aesthetics of Inventive Infrastructures of Repair” – Lara Houston

2017-01-10 DCRL Semester theme: Design and Repair, Winter Semester 2016/2017


Venue: Freiraum Lüneburg Salzstr. 1 / 21335 Lüneburg

Lara Houston's talk interleaves repair research across two contexts. Beginning first with Kampala, Uganda – a site where networks of mobile telephony have rapidly expanded. What kinds of inventive infrastructures do mobile phone repair technicians assemble? They corral circulating parts, tools, techniques and hacks – working outside of “authorized” networks sanctioned by mobile phone designers.

Moving to the USA, the talk explores the current policy and legislative context for consumer electronics repair. What kinds of closures restrict the formation of lively and sustainable infrastructures of repair? Several examples demonstrate how manufacturers and regulators foreclose repair through design-led physical closures, corporate practices and legal frameworks. How are emerging "right to repair" movements in the USA making claims for a different role and status for repair work? 

Dr. Lara Houston is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is a member of the ERC project Citizen Sense, which explores citizen and participatory modes of environmental sensing, and engagements with environmental data. She was previously a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University, working on the Reclaiming Repair project. Her scholarship explores modes of breakdown and repair.