Skateboarding and the Mis-Use Value of Infrastructure

  • Duncan McDuie-Ra University of Newcastle
Keywords: Infrastructure, skateboarding, social relations, surveillance, media

Abstract

Infrastructure generates social relationships as bodies (human and non-human) encounter one another moving through urban and peri-urban space. Studies explore these relationships in-depth, however there is limited consideration of social relationships generated through deliberate mis-use of infrastructure, termed the alter-sociality of infrastructure in this article. This article focuses on the mis-use of infrastructure by skateboarders and the filmers and photographers who capture their unsanctioned performances. It makes three arguments. First, skateboarders are an adjacent public for infrastructure, invested in its constant production but not in its intended use. Second, skateboarding promotes an alter-sociality of infrastructure drawing our attention to desire, damage, surveillance, and wounding generated by mis-use. Third, unlike other appropriations of infrastructure for mis-use, skateboarding is captured as video and image, circulated globally through digital technology, freely accessible, and consumed and emulated by millions of skaters across the world. As a result, otherwise ordinary infrastructure has profound subcultural significance, widely shared histories, and draws skaters from other cities and other countries to arrangements of surfaces, objects and obstacles barely noticed by other urban dwellers.

References

Amin, Ash. 2014. “Lively Infrastructure.” Theory, Culture & Society 31 (7-8): 137-161.

Appel, Hannah, Nikhil Anand and Akhil Gupta. 2019. “Introduction: Temporality, Politics, and the Promise of Infrastructure.” In Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta and Hannah Appel (Eds.) The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 1-38.  

Ashley, Sam. 2017. Isle x SkatePal: Pieces Of Palestine. Free Skateboard Magazine, 24 October. Available at: https://www.freeskatemag.com/2017/10/24/palestine/ (accessed 1 November 2017).

Becky Beal and Charlene Wilson. 2004. “‘Chicks dig scars’: Commercialisation and the transformations of skateboarders’ identities.” In Belinda Wheaton (Ed.) Understanding Lifestyle Sport. London, UK/ New York, NY: Routledge: 43-66.

Benjamin, Walter. 1999. The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Borden, Iain. 2001. Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body. London, UK/ New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Brook, Joe. 2020. Burnside 4 Life: 30 Years Under The Bridge (article). Thrasher Magazine, 2 November. Available at: https://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/burnside-30-year-article/ (accessed 3 December, 2020).

Browne, Simone. 2015. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Carr, John. 2017. “Skateboarding in dude space: The roles of space and sport in constructing gender among adult skateboarders.” Sociology of Sport Journal 34 (1): 25-34;

Chowdhury, Romit. 2021. “The Social Life of Transport Infrastructures: Masculinities and Everyday Mobilities in Kolkata.” Urban Studies 58 (1): 73-89.

Chiu, Chihsin. 2009. “Contestation and Conformity: Street and Park Skateboarding in New York City Public Space.” Space and Culture 12 (1): 25-42.

Chu, Julie Y. 2014. “When Infrastructures Attack: The Workings of Disrepair in China.” American Ethnologist 41 (2): 351-367.

Collier, Stephen J., James Christopher Mizes, and Antina von Schnitzler. 2016. “Public Infrastructures / Infrastructural Publics.” Limn (7). https://limn.it/articles/preface-public-infrastructures-infrastructural-publics/.

Dinces, Sean. 2011. “‘Flexible Opposition’: Skateboarding Subcultures Under the Rubric of Late Capitalism.” The International Journal of the History of Sport 28 (11): 1512-1535.

Dupont, Tyler. 2020. “Authentic Subcultural Identities and Social Media: American Skateboarders and Instagram.” Deviant Behavior 41 (5): 649-664.

Featherstone, Mike. 2006. “Archive.” Theory, Culture & Society 23 (2-3): 591-596.

Fok, Clara Yee Ling and Paul O’Connor. “Chinese women skateboarders in Hong Kong: A skatefeminism approach.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 56 (3): 399-415.

Ghertner, D. Asher. 2015. Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Graham, Stephen and Colin McFarlane. 2014. “Introduction.” In Infrastructural Lives: Urban Infrastructure in Context. New York, NY/Abingdon, UK: Routledge: 1-14.

Haggerty, Kevin D. and Richard V. Ericson. 2000. “The Surveillant Assemblage.” The British Journal of Sociology 51 (4): 605-622.

Handel, Ariel and Hilla Dayan. 2017. “Multilayered Surveillance in Israel/Palestine: Dialectics of Inclusive Exclusion.” Surveillance & Society 15 (3/4): 471-476.

Harris, Jacob. 2017. Pieces of Palestine. Isle x Skatepal. Video File. Available at: https://skateboarding.transworld.net/videos/isle-x-skatepal-pieces-palestine/ (Accessed 4 December, 2017).

Harvey, Penny and Hannah Knox. 2012. “The Enchantments of Infrastructure.” Mobilities 7 (4): 521-536.

Hollett, Ty and Francisco Vivoni. 2020. “DIY Skateparks as Temporary Disruptions to Neoliberal Cities: Informal Learning through Micropolitical Making.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education: 1-17.

Hoskins, Andrew. 2011. “Media, Memory, Metaphor: Remembering and the Connective Turn.” Parallax 17 (4): 19-31.

Ingersoll, Richard. 2006. Sprawltown: Looking for the City on its Edges. New York, NY: Princeton University Press.

Klauser, Francisco. 2016. Surveillance and Space. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Kolb, David. 2008. Sprawling Places. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

Larkin, Brian. 2013. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327-343.

Lyon, David. 2007. Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Manzenreiter, Wolfram. 2020. “Skateboarding: ‘F*** the Olympics’.” In Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics, edited by Barbara Holthus, Isaac Gagné, Wolfram Manzenreiter, Franz Waldenberger, pp. 12-12. New York, NY: Routledge.

McDuie-Ra, Duncan. 2020. “Chasing the Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Landscapes in Skate Video.” Space and Culture: 1206331220916390.

McDuie-Ra, Duncan. 2021a. Skateboarding and Urban Landscapes in Asia: Endless Spots. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 

McDuie-Ra, Duncan. 2021b. “The Ludic Lives of Memoryscapes: Skateboarding Post-Soviet Peripheries.” Memory Studies: 1750698021995982.

McDuie-Ra, Duncan. 2021c. Skateboard Video: Archiving the City from Below. Singapore: Springer.

Mortagne, Fred. 2000. Menikmati. éS. Video File (DVD).

O'Connor, Paul. 2020. Skateboarding and Religion. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan.

O'Connor, Paul. 2018a. “Handrails, steps and curbs: Sacred places and secular pilgrimage in skateboarding.” Sport in Society 21 (11): 1651-1668.

O'Connor, Paul. 2018b. “Hong Kong skateboarding and network capital.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 42 (6): 419-436.

Peralta, Stacey. 1984. Bones Brigade Video Show. Powell Peralta. Video File (VHS).

Rosenberg, Daniel and Anthony Grafton. 2010. Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

Schwier, Jürgen. 2019. “Skateboarding between Subculture and Olympic Games.” In Skateboarding Between Subculture and the Olympics, 15-34, edited by Veith Kilberth, Jürgen Schwier. Bielfield, Germany: transcript-Verlag.

Sheringham, Michael and Richard Wentworth. 2016. “City as Archive: A Dialogue between Theory and Practice.” Cultural Geographies 23 (3): 517-523.

Shiqiao, Li. 2014. Understanding the Chinese City. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Shmitty. 2020. Burnside 4 Life: 30 Years Under The Bridge. Thrasher Magazine (Video File). Available at: https://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/videos/burnside-s-turning-30-video/ (Accessed 4 December, 2020).

Simone, AbdouMaliq. 2008. “Some Reflections on Making Popular Culture in Urban Africa.” African Studies Review 51 (3): 75-89.

Snyder, Gregory J. 2017. Skateboarding LA: Inside Professional Street Skateboarding. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Solomon, Harris. 2021. “Death Traps: Holes in Urban India.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 39 (3): 423-440.  

Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist 43 (3): 377-391.

Tabone, Adam. 2021. Civic Central. Girl Skateboards/Laate Store. Video File. Available at:  https://crailtap.com/2021/04/27/rowan-davis-in-civic-central/ (Accessed 29 April, 2021).

Thorpe, Holly and Megan Chawansky. 2021. “Gender, embodiment and reflexivity in everyday spaces of development in Afghanistan.” Gender, Place & Culture 28 (3): 370-396.

Thrasher Magazine. 2017. Hall of Meat; Jamie Foy. Available at: https://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/videos/hall-of-meat-jamie-foy-2/ (Accessed 13 May, 2021).

Thrasher Magazine. 2020. Hall of Meat: Gabbers. Available at: https://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/videos/hall-of-meat-gabbers/ (Accessed 13 May, 2021).

Truscello, Michael. 2020. Infrastructural Brutalism: Art and the Necropolitics of Infrastructure. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Vivoni, Francisco. 2009. “Spots of Spatial Desire: Skateparks, Skateplazas, and Urban

Politics.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 33 (2): 130-149.

Vivoni, Francisco and Jacob Folsom-Fraster. 2021. “Crafting Cities for all: Qualitative Inquiry of the Street and the Spatial Practice of Skateboarding.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies: 15327086211004879.

Weizman, Eyal. 2017. Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation. 3rd. ed. London, UK: Verso.
Published
2021-12-16
How to Cite
McDuie-Ra, D. (2021). Skateboarding and the Mis-Use Value of Infrastructure. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 21(1), 49-64. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/2167