Stitching Together Space and Time

Presented by James Merron

Monday, 11 October, 2021 - 16:00

This paper is situated within the Technoscapes cluster at WiSER whose scope is to examine the co-production of technologies and spatial orders in Africa. I focus on the production of spatial knowledge of the Orange River through aerial photographs and satellite imagery. The river flows over 2’000 kilometres from Lesotho, through South Africa and Namibia, eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. More than just flowing water, the river is composed of multiple becomings and enactments. Water is diverted for mining, domestic and agricultural use while the banks form a geopolitical feature of the landscape: the border between Namibia and South Africa. The exact location of the boundary is a matter of international dispute over water allocation, land rights, offshore mining and natural gas exploitation. Set against this background, I explore the techno-scientific assemblages that define the lower Orange River, its political territory and spatial configuration. Using practice theory as a resource, I account for a landscape archive built-up by stitching together aerial photographs and satellite images. What lines of flight emerge out of attending to the skilled work of drone operators, geomorphologists and historians? What does this offer in terms of understanding the co-production of technologies and spatial order in Southern Africa?
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