Essay #1

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Instructions: A key theme we have covered thus far is the uneven geography of the Anthropocene. We have emphasized how infrastructure systems are socially and spatially uneven: not everyone can access infrastructure systems, and the costs and benefits of these infrastructure systems are uneven distributed throughout the population. This uneven geography of infrastructure in the Anthropocene has been amplified by recent neoliberal governance reforms that intensify the splintering of urban infrastructure systems.

FIU’s location in Miami gives us a unique opportunity to examine how the uneven geographies of infrastructure in the Anthropocene play out in our everyday lives. We are reliant on multiple infrastructure systems (transportation, housing, internet, energy, water), both directly in our everyday lives and indirectly. To name just a few examples, work in the tourism or service industry relies on airport services and shipping ports for cruise lines, airports, sea ports and roadways for retail services. Likewise, we rely on housing systems that build, sell and rent housing through a mix of public and private actors, legal frameworks governing home construction, property rental laws, and so forth. And of course, sea level rise and increasing hurricane intensity introduce a number of challenges to the continued provisioning of these and other infrastructure-based services.  Miami thus offers a unique window on the social, economic, political, cultural and environmental dynamics that are producing uneven geographies of infrastructure and thus shaping the geographies of the Anthropocene.

In this essay, drawing on your own experience, course readings, and independent research, analyze the uneven geography of infrastructure in the Greater Miami region. Specifically, answer the following questions:

  • What infrastructure systems are vital to sustaining everyday life in Miami?
  • How were these infrastructure systems historically produced?
    • What role has the state played? (both the federal (US) and state (Florida) and local (Miami-Dade County, other city governaments) governments)
    • What role has the private sector played?
    • How has responsibility for producing and managing these systems shifted in recent years?
  • What inequalities exist?
    • Inequalities in terms of access and inclusion/exclusion – who can use systems, who can’t?
    • Inequalities in terms of costs and benefits – who benefits, who doesn’t?
  • How have these inequalities shifted in recent years?
    • Are inequalities generally increasing or decreasing in response to the Anthropocene?

In answering these questions, you can focus in detail on one infrastructure system or provide an overview many interlinked systems. Your essay should be 1,000 words (equivalent to two single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1” margins).

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