What happened to the study of technology in Africa?

Technology Studies in Africa Mellon Workshop July 11-14, 2016 • Durban, South Africa

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Technology Studies in Africa

Mellon Workshop

July 10-15, 2016  •  Durban, South Africa

Sunday, 10 July

Welcome drinks


Monday, 11 July


Introduction (1- 2 pm)

Gabrielle Hecht, Keith Breckenridge and Paul Edwards


Session 1: Infrastructure (2:30- 4:30 pm)

Pre-circulated papers


Claudia Gastrow (University of the Witwatersrand): Infrastructure and class distinction in the African city


Keith Breckenridge (University of the Witwatersrand): Biometric Capitalism: Debt, demography and African states in the 21st century


Paul Edwards (University of Michigan): Architecture, Violence, Routine: Infrastructural Legacies of Apartheid


Bernard Dubbeld (University of Stellenbosch): Administering Infrastructure:  Technopolitical Futures in the South African countryside


Discussant:  Gabrielle Hecht (University of Michigan)


Session 2: Water (5- 6.30 pm)

Pecha Kucha


Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand): Ruminations on Renovation in Postcolonial Beira


Jatin Dua (University of Michigan): Bodies at Sea: Technologies of navigation in the Indian Ocean


Jennifer Johnson (Purdue University): A Paradox Otherwise: Ontological Problems and Possibilities around an Inland African Sea


Discussant: Ngaka Mosiane (University of the Witwatersrand and MISTRA)



Tuesday, 12 July


Infrastructure field trip (8- 2 pm)


Session 3: Coal (4- 6 pm)

Pre-circulated papers


Faeeza Ballim (University of the Witwatersrand): The fickleness of coal: Risk and electricity generation in South Africa


Stephen Sparks (University of Johannesburg): ‘Tailor made for South African Conditions’: Technological Momentum and Apartheid South Africa’s Oil-From-Coal Project


Discussant: Robyn d’Avignon (University of Michigan)



Wednesday, 13 July


Session 4: Evacuation (1- 4 pm)

Installation (explanation/exploration 1-1:45)


Brenda Chalfin (University of Florida): Digi-Potty|Tema, Ghana: Public Toilets, Urban Technology, and Popular Politics


Pre-circulated papers (2- 4pm)


Josh Grace (University of South Carolina): Savage Relief: Poop(ing) and Infrastructural Order in East Africa, 1870s to Present


Tasha Rijke-Epstein (University of Michigan): Contested Logics and Scatological Dilemmas: Unfolding sanitation infrastructures in colonial and postcolonial Mahajanga, Madagascar


Peter Redfield (University of North Carolina) and Steven Robins (University of Stellenbosch): An Index of Waste: Humanitarian Design, ‘Dignified Living’ and Sanitation Politics in Cape Town


Discussant: Nick Caverly (University of Michigan)


Session 5: Transforming Bodies (5- 6:30 pm)

Pecha Kucha


Divine Fuh (University of Cape Town) and Lynn Thomas (University of Washington), double PK: Technologies of bodily self-fashioning?


Hlonipha Mokoena (University of the Witwatersrand): Armed and Disciplined Natives: The Zulu Policeman as a Product of Colonial Technologies


Discussant: Rachel Ceasar (University of the Witwatersrand)



Thursday, 14 July


Session 6: Rethinking Africa’s past through technology (1- 2:30 pm)

Pre-circulated papers


Emma Park (University of Michigan): ‘Tropicalising’ Technologies: Enacting Radio in Colonial Kenya


Seyram Avle (University of Michigan): Technology discourse in contemporary Africa: Narratives, materials and activities.


Discussant: Keith Breckenridge (University of the Witwatersrand)


Session 7: Wrap-up (3- 6 pm)



Rachel Ceasar (University of the Witwatersrand)


Cosmas Ochieng (African Centre for Technology Studies)


Daniel Williford (University of Michigan)


Iginio Gagliardone (University of the Witwatersrand, Oxford University)



Closing dinner (7pm--)

Ile Maurice, Umhlanga Rocks