University of Twente Student Theses


Technopolitics as a Sociomaterial Process : An Infrastructural Study of the Berlin Wall

Teschner (né Schrader), N.A. (2019) Technopolitics as a Sociomaterial Process : An Infrastructural Study of the Berlin Wall.

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Abstract:From its initial construction as a barbed wire barrier and the following development into a heavily fortified cordon sanitaire, to wall remnants turned into memorial sites, the Berlin Wall evolved materially significantly over time. Despite this transformation, the Berlin Wall is often framed as a political instrument. This thesis examines what kind of understanding of technopolitics is offered if the Berlin Wall is considered an infrastructure instead. Approaching it as infrastructure helps to understand how it paradoxically appears as both an impenetrable barrier, capable of determining people’s lives and as a fragile structure. It is shown that the Wall’s materiality and symbolic meanings are not historically fixed but evolve as a fluid amalgamation with engineering considerations, government decisions, economic requirements, military techniques, environmental constraints and cultural elements. This process of ongoing sociomaterial change also suggests that the perceived impenetrability or porosity of the Berlin Wall is not just defined by clear-cut material-scientific terms but instead is located on a technopolitical spectrum that shifts in time and space. This infrastructural analysis highlights that the Wall’s poetics are a crucial aspect when trying to understand how it developed, how it was capable of affecting people’s health leading to so-called wall disorder, or of reappearing as memorial infrastructure. In each of these different aspects, the same dynamic is uncovered: technopolitics as emerging from sociomaterial interaction. The Wall’s continuous evolution makes evident that technopolitics is not something stable but evolves together with the sociomaterial processes that give rise to it.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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