Infrastructural Vulnerabilities

December 12, 2018

Task 2 drawing

Resistance and the reality of kitchens

However perfect we may think to plan a kitchen, with spatial efficiency, state-of-the-art appliances and sturdy materials, no solution can fully prepare it for the chaos that will constitute life in this space. The kitchen is rightfully called the heart of the home by many; it is a space we all use and, in larger frequency than a bathroom, it is used in a versatile way that evolve us as social and curious beings. Our kitchen is not only a place to cook, it’s a space for socialization and ideas. In here we explore, meet, learn, discuss, argue, connect, adapt, resist and express ourselves and others.

For many across the world, the sharing of a meal, a drink or just the heat around a kitchen table or a fireplace (that can be seen as a kitchen in its’ simplest form) is the most accessible social space available. Here we build relationships and exchange knowledge. The kitchen is a safe space to try out ideas that in a more public setting may be seen as radical, strange or unwanted and therefore rejected. Here we can instead try out those ideas and find safety in the confined space, surrounded by those we trust.

Judith Butler writes in “Rethinking Vunerability and Resistance” (2014) about the rights of assembly and the infrastructural needs of mobilization:

“The material conditions for speech and assembly are part of what we are speaking and assembling about. We have to assume the infrastructural goods for which we are fighting, but if the infrastructural conditions for politics are themselves decimated, so too are the assemblies that depend upon them. At such a point, the condition of the political is one of the goods for which political assembly takes place —this might be the double meaning of “the infrastructural” under conditions in which public goods are increasingly dismantled by privatization, neo-liberalism, accelerating forms of economic inequality, and the anti-democratic tactics of authoritarian rule.”

Judith Butler, 2014, “Rethinking Vunerability and Resistance”

The kitchen can constitute such an space of assembly for resistance and mobilization, even when other such spaces disappear or are infringed upon. The kitchen is in fact a valuable infrastructure in the life of a dissident. After Stalin’s death in 1952, Soviet kitchens, for example, were the hotbed of dissent culture. When all the public spaces were monitored by the Soviet regime, domestic spaces were the only option for social gatherings. Kitchen tables were therefore the centre of discussions, sharing music, reading books and human connections. This was an effort of both preserving the culture, but also creating it. No matter how tiny the space might have been, it was one’s own.

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