Seminar #GoFrugal: 22 JANUARY "Constellations of Infrastructural Incompleteness"

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Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) Erasmus University Rotterdam, Classroom 2

This seminar session we have invited Prince Guma as guest speaker.

Constellations of Infrastructural Incompleteness. Vignettes of Frugal Technologies in Nairobi

While urban infrastructures everywhere are often portrayed as underlying a blend of ambiguities and ambivalences, studies have sometimes taken a binary approach. Infrastructures in the urban global North are sometimes depicted as closed, stable, seamless, banal and complete, and those in the urban global South as largely open, precarious, lively, dynamic and incomplete. Within these debates, there is often a subtle expectation for domains to aspire to evolve as complete systems, where those that do not appear to yield or conform are regarded as failed or deficient. In this lecture, I argue that instead of devising universalizing solutions to processes of infrastructural heterogeneity, it is perhaps better to see infrastructures for what they really are: as emergent, shifting, and in that sense, incomplete. I make this case drawing from key scenarios from the diffusion and appropriation of frugal mobile-phone-based technologies in Nairobi’s water and energy sectors.

Prince GumaAbout the session speaker

Prince Guma is an urban imaginer, and doctoral candidate at Utrecht University under the Department of Human Geography and Planning. His work is situated at the intersection of Urban Studies, Infrastructure Studies, and Technology Studies. His prior work has questioned how forces of urbanity, rurality, postcoloniality and contemporaneity elucidate, obscure, affect or are affected by everyday processes, practices and materialities. His current overarching project titled "The Remaking of Urban Infrastructure and the African City in the Mobile Age," examines the ways in which infrastructure systems are constructed and reconstructed through the diffusion and deployment of mobile technologies. 

Are you interested in joining this Frugal Seminar Session? You can register for this event by sending an e-mail to Merel Molenaar (molenaar@iss.nl).