Annika Kühn

Annika Kühn is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Hamburg. During 2015 and 2017 she was fellow at Graduate School ‘Lose Connections. Collectivity at the intersection of digital and urban space’. With a background in sociology and media studies she uses infrastructure theory and mobility studies to examine ports as interplay of urban, digital and maritime infrastructures. In her phd project, supervised by Prof. Dr. Urs Stäheli and Prof. Dr. Claus Pias, she develops the idea of ‘Standby Infrastructures’ and contributes to theoretical discussions on material rhythms and the analytical work on coastal assemblages. Annika has two children and lives and works in Hamburg and Berlin.


Standby Infrastructures

In my phd project I examine the temporality of touristic infrastructures. The project follows modes of un_relating during high and low cruise season and aims to contribute to the theoretical discussion on infrastructural rhythms and the analytical work on coastal assemblages.

Cruise studies mainly focus on huge, impressive ships. Or they describe socioeconomic interactions between passengers and locals during berthing. In contrast, my project concentrates on terminals during times of standby. The notion of standby will serve as a guideline and will be discussed as 1) a political issue transposing a massive touristic infrastructure into an urban issue (e.g. discourses about (temporary) wastelands; about abandonment of dependent ports; and health issues). 2) It is analyzed as a challenge to municipal actors which are eager to accelerate utilization – if necessary through economic, social and ecologic de-regulation but which are at the same time fearing a form of public pressure (see protest e.g. in Venice, Barcelona). 3) Inspired by neomaterialist approaches standby also raises questions of ‘more-than-human waiting’, e.g. in the form of toxic elements or terminal materialities (e.g. weathering, erosion).

The focus on standby reveals the multi-temporality of infrastructures. Overcoming dualisms between stillness and mobility the notion of standby becomes a powerful instrument to question popular ideas of non_operation, waiting, slowing down, accelerating or breakdown and it reveals the intermingling of the obvious and the invisible: official regulations, subversive tactics and public indifference.