Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Closure and Innovation in urban technologies in the age of Development Aid
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0611-7512
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Urban networked technologies of water supply and sanitation have been transferred from the global North to produce “development” in the South first through colonial structures, and later through the machinery of development aid. While some “development” has been produced by means of such imported systems and practices, they have also entrenched social injustice in African cities. The African urban environment and its technosphere cannot be seen outside its system of values and power hierarchies, meaning that the innovation and change dynamics of urban technology is heavily influenced by the political economy context particularly of the urban elites. While European water technologies came to represent modernisation and progress in colonial contexts it appears as they continued to serve a similar symbolic purpose also after de-colonisation. By discussing the trajectories of these technologies in the South through the use of the “closure” concept, I argue that the symbolic purpose of infrastructure may have been more crucial for African political leaders and system builders than previously understood. Problems and controversies that have been identified by key actors are predominantly of fiduciary nature, while influential external actors like donors have had small incentives for technological change. In terms of technological development the water and sanitation large-scale systems have continued to be in a state of closure and any major innovation activity within them is likely to require a shift in power and accountability structures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
innovation, technical and social change, technology transfer, modernity, Africa, water, urban
National Category
History of Technology Water Engineering
Research subject
Land and Water Resources Engineering; History of Science, Technology and Environment
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-174022OAI: diva2:856573
7th Tensions of Europe Conference: Technology and Environment, 3-6 September 2015, Stockholm, Sweden

QC 20150928

Available from: 2015-09-24 Created: 2015-09-24 Last updated: 2015-09-28Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Nilsson, David
By organisation
History of Science, Technology and Environment
History of TechnologyWater Engineering

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 37 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link