This essay asks how we might understand the relations between infrastructures—such as electricity—and structures—such as racism. Should we use the same methods of analysis to grasp both? It contends that techniques of description drawn from the realist novel can help us to analyze structures and infrastructures. And it argues that the defamiliarizing strategies of realist fiction also work well to unsettle the privileged obliviousness that prevents us from noticing structures and infrastructures in everyday life. The article’s central example is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah, which draws on realist traditions to defamiliarize both race and electricity.


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