Unpacking Adoption and Adaptation in Infrastructure Assemblages: Case of Bengaluru, India


This paper uses the ‘assemblage’ frame to unpack the human/ non-human history of infrastructure provisioning at the neighbourhood scale, with a focus on water. This paper draws on primary fieldwork undertaken in a neighbourhood with incremental self- constructed housing and slum resettlement housing in Bangalore, located within the municipal jurisdictional area. Though the neighbourhood is connected to the city’s water- grid, the actual supply that households receive is limited and often disrupted. Over time, supplemental systems that draw on local borewells, as well as water ATMs and water tankers have been systematized to address the water scarcity conditions. The incremental build- out of these supplemental systems has been made possible through local social and political groups, in coalition with local government officials. The paper discusses how the assemblage for water provisioning may be understood as a co- functioning, shaped by practices of adoption and adaptation of technology, materials, and systems, through social and political networks, and through cycles of daily use, seasonal scarcities, material life- cycles of repair, and institutional/ non- institutional cycles of investing in upgraded/ new infrastructure. Based on findings from the field, the paper will discuss the geographies of difference that persist across the neighbourhood, which highlight that while infrastructure assemblages highlight ‘transversal logics’ of instrumentality in situations where pipes do not guarantee provisioning, they are not immune to structuring that recreates and amplifies existing patterns of social and economic marginalization.