'The Broken Promise of Infrastructure' Dominic Davies in conversation with Elleke Boehmer and Sivamohan Valluvan, chaired by Emma Parker

Friday, 8 December

'The Broken Promise of Infrastructure' Dominic Davies in conversation with Elleke Boehmer and Sivamohan Valluvan, chaired by Emma Parker

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‘The Broken Promise of Infrastructure’ Dominic Davies in conversation with Elleke Boehmer and Sivamohan Valluvan, chaired by Emma Parker

Drawing on examples from Rhodes’s railways to the tragedy of Grenfell, The Broken Promise of Infrastructure takes readers on a journey through a cultural history of infrastructure development across Britain and its Empire.

The Broken Promise of Infrastructure tackles the divisive cultural politics that have been used to deflect attention away from Britain’s failing infrastructure, from Brexit through to the ‘levelling up’ agenda and beyond. Building on more than a decade of research, Davies argues that infrastructure projects are always far more than concrete and steel: they can reinforce nationalist narratives, undermine regional identities, and place real limits on our politics. By exposing the geographies of race, class, and gender that still govern the way infrastructure is imagined, Davies invites us to break open these limits and ask what – or rather who – really makes Britain work.

The promise of ‘levelling up’ has been broken. With case studies that range from Stoke-on-Trent and South Africa to Silicon Valley, Davies shows that this broken promise runs back through broader histories of industry and empire. As racial capitalism maintains its iron grip on Britain and the climate crisis becomes daily more apparent, this book argues that there has never been a more urgent time to challenge dominant ways of thinking about infrastructure, and to reclaim its world-shaping force for ourselves.

“An exhilarating journey through time and space… This exciting book explains why the performative politics of planning and architecture are far too important to be left to the professionals”– Vron Ware, author of Return of a Native: Learning from the LandDominic Davies is an academic and author whose research focuses on how infrastructure is lived, imagined, and experienced. He is particularly interested in the cultural politics of infrastructure as they take shape through contexts of empire, nationalism, and racial capitalism.

Dom is the author and editor of several book, articles, and chapters relating to these topics, including most recently The Broken Promise of Infrastructure. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in English at City, University of London. More information about his research is available at drdomdavies.com.Elleke Boehmer is a founding figure in the field of colonial and postcolonial literary studies, and internationally known for her research in the anglophone literatures of empire and anti-empire. 

Sivamohan Valluvan is an Assistant Professor in the department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, and author of ‘The Clamour of Nationalism: Race and Nation in Twenty-First Century Britain

Emma Parker is a Lecturer in Literature and Gender at the University of Bristol, and author of ‘Life Writing and the End of Empire.

Date & Time: 

Friday, 8 December, 2023 - 18:00 to 19:30
5 Caledonian Road King's Cross
N1 9DX
United Kingdom


Two minute walk from King's Cross/St.Pancras terminals

We are a not-for-profit bookshop, specialising in books, zines, and periodicals of radical interest and progressive politics. We stock the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and magazines of any shop in Britain.


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