Tag Archives: Ingenieros

Assembling Policy. Transantiago, Human Devices, and the Dream of a World-Class Society

[Sebastian Ureta avisa a EdlE de su nuevo libro Assembling Policy. Transantiago, Human Devices, and the Dream of a World-Class Society publicado por MIT Press. Además de para los y las curiosas en la historia del muy polémico sistema de transporte de Santiago, un libro para aquellas y aquellos interesados en las intersecciones entre STS, análisis de dispositivos e instrumentos de políticas públicas y el rol de los economistas e ingenieros en la gubernamentalidad contemporánea]

PAssembling Policyolicymakers are regularly confronted by complaints that ordinary people are left out of the planning and managing of complex infrastructure projects. In this book, Sebastián Ureta argues that humans, both individually and collectively, are always at the heart of infrastructure policy; the issue is how they are brought into it. Ureta develops his argument through the case of Transantiago, a massive public transportation project in the city of Santiago, proposed in 2000, launched in 2007, and in 2012 called “the worst public policy ever implemented in our country” by a Chilean government spokesman.

Ureta examines Transantiago as a policy assemblage formed by an array of heterogeneous elements—including, crucially, “human devices,” or artifacts and practices through which humans were brought into infrastructure planning and implementation. Ureta traces the design and operation of Transantiago through four configurations: crisis, infrastructuration, disruption, and normalization. In the crisis phase, humans were enacted both as consumers and as participants in the transformation of Santiago into a “world-class” city, but during infrastructuration the “active citizen” went missing. Continue reading

The Synco Boys: those forgotten pre-neoliberal economic experts. An interview with Eden Medina

Portada revolucionarios ciberneticos.inddEden Medina has written one of the most fascinating books about Chile’s recent history, Cybernetic Revolutionaries (MIT Press) published originally in 2011 and recently translated by LOM as Revolucionarios Cibernéticos. Tecnología y política en el Chile de Salvador Allende. From a STS approach, and based on archive material and extensive interviews, the book describes in detail the history of ‘Proyecto Synco’, the attempt lead by British cybernetician Stafford Beer and Fernando Flores to coordinate and manage the Chilean socialist economy. Taking the translation of the book as an excuse, we asked Eden to talk to Estudios de la Economía. The only problem was that at that time, November 2013, we were each in a different country, Eden in the US, Manuel in the UK and José in Denmark. But we finally had the Skype conversation we share with you here. Unfortunately, at the time of the meeting Manuel was in a very noisy café. Therefore, some parts (particularly answer to question 1) are difficult to hear. Anyway, we are very happy to share this podcast, hoping it will motivate listeners to read Eden’s book and inspire more detailed historical research of this kind. Continue reading

Neoliberal electricity: energy, experimentation and the purification of the economy

[Pido disculpas por lo largo y desordenado del post: es un copy/paste de un paper en construcción y de apuntes para una presentación en el último ISA en Buenos Aires, más inserciones varias para hacer el texto algo más legible].

Introduction: neoliberalism in the making

In 1975 the Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear (CCHEN) submitted to government evaluation the Plan de Energía Nucleoeléctrica (PEN), a detailed technical and economic program to introduce the first commercial nuclear plant by 1989. By the mid-1970s the PEN had become one of the most important and ambitious technological programs in the country. Embedded in the ambience of fascination towards (nuclear) technology that had imbued Latin America, and propelled by the geopolitical race against Argentina, the Chilean government – particularly during Pinochet’s military regimen – trained several dozen army engineers in nuclear operations and engineering, signed multiple assistance and research agreements, created extended networks of institutional and technical allies, and, more importantly, enrolled ENDESA and CHILECTRA – national symbols of Chile’s technological capabilities – imbuing the PEN in an epic narrative of technological and industrial development. The PEN seemed not only necessary, but inevitable given its inertia: the technological momentum of the PEN was too strong to stop the motion of events. All the pieces were aligned and a lot of effort had been invested: the PEN had built an irrevocability that seemed impossible to revert. But it was: in 1979, the Comisión Nacional de Energía (CNE), established the year before by the arriving team of Chicago-trained economists to explicitly “transform the energy sector into a market”, drafted a 220-pages document arguing for the cancellation of the NEP.

The story about the cancellation of the PEN can be told in several ways. Here I will choose one in particular: a story about neoliberalism in Chile. But in lieu of understanding neoliberalism as an epochal and abstract force, the case at hand lends itself to inquire neoliberalism as a set of situated material and knowledge practices – and therefore unfolding in specific sites and through specific controversies. Continue reading