Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He is the author of Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe and the editor of What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa?, both published by the MIT Press.

  • The Mobile Workshop

    The Mobile Workshop

    The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production

    Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

    How the presence of the tsetse fly turned the African forest into an open laboratory where African knowledge formed the basis of colonial tsetse control policies.

    The tsetse fly is a pan-African insect that bites an infective forest animal and ingests blood filled with invisible parasites, which it carries and transmits into cattle and people as it bites them, leading to n'gana (animal trypanosomiasis) and sleeping sickness. In The Mobile Workshop, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga examines how the presence of the tsetse fly turned the forests of Zimbabwe and southern Africa into an open laboratory where African knowledge formed the basis of colonial tsetse control policies. He traces the pestiferous work that an indefatigable, mobile insect does through its movements, and the work done by humans to control it.

    Mavhunga's account restores the central role not just of African labor but of African intellect in the production of knowledge about the tsetse fly. He describes how European colonizers built on and beyond this knowledge toward destructive and toxic methods, including cutting down entire forests, forced “prophylactic” resettlement, massive destruction of wild animals, and extensive spraying of organochlorine pesticides. Throughout, Mavhunga uses African terms to describe the African experience, taking vernacular concepts as starting points in writing a narrative of ruzivo (knowledge) rather than viewing Africa through foreign keywords. The tsetse fly became a site of knowledge production—a mobile workshop of pestilence.

    • Paperback $37.00
  • What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa?

    What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa?

    Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

    Explorations of science, technology, and innovation in Africa not as the product of “technology transfer” from elsewhere but as the working of African knowledge.

    In the STI literature, Africa has often been regarded as a recipient of science, technology, and innovation rather than a maker of them. In this book, scholars from a range of disciplines show that STI in Africa is not merely the product of “technology transfer” from elsewhere but the working of African knowledge. Their contributions focus on African ways of looking, meaning-making, and creating. The chapter authors see Africans as intellectual agents whose perspectives constitute authoritative knowledge and whose strategic deployment of both endogenous and inbound things represents an African-centered notion of STI. “Things do not (always) mean the same from everywhere,” observes Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, the volume's editor. Western, colonialist definitions of STI are not universalizable.

    The contributors discuss topics that include the trivialization of indigenous knowledge under colonialism; the creative labor of chimurenga, the transformation of everyday surroundings into military infrastructure; the role of enslaved Africans in America as innovators and synthesizers; the African ethos of “fixing”; the constitutive appropriation that makes mobile technologies African; and an African innovation strategy that builds on domestic capacities. The contributions describe an Africa that is creative, technological, and scientific, showing that African STI is the latest iteration of a long process of accumulative, multicultural knowledge production.

    Contributors Geri Augusto, Shadreck Chirikure, Chux Daniels, Ron Eglash, Ellen Foster, Garrick E. Louis, D. A. Masolo, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Neda Nazemi, Toluwalogo Odumosu, Katrien Pype, Scott Remer

    • Paperback $36.00
  • Transient Workspaces

    Transient Workspaces

    Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe

    Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

    An account of technology in Africa from an African perspective, examining hunting in Zimbabwe as an example of an innovative mobile workspace.

    In this book, Clapperton Mavhunga views technology in Africa from an African perspective. Technology in his account is not something always brought in from outside, but is also something that ordinary people understand, make, and practice through their everyday innovations or creativities—including things that few would even consider technological. Technology does not always originate in the laboratory in a Western-style building but also in the society in the forest, in the crop field, and in other places where knowledge is made and turned into practical outcomes.

    African creativities are found in African mobilities. Mavhunga shows the movement of people as not merely conveyances across space but transient workspaces. Taking indigenous hunting in Zimbabwe as one example, he explores African philosophies of mobilities as spiritually guided and of the forest as a sacred space. Viewing the hunt as guided mobility, Mavhunga considers interesting questions of what constitutes technology under regimes of spirituality. He describes how African hunters extended their knowledge traditions to domesticate the gun, how European colonizers, with no remedy of their own, turned to indigenous hunters for help in combating the deadly tsetse fly, and examines how wildlife conservation regimes have criminalized African hunting rather than enlisting hunters (and their knowledge) as allies in wildlife sustainability. The hunt, Mavhunga writes, is one of many criminalized knowledges and practices to which African people turn in times of economic or political crisis. He argues that these practices need to be decriminalized and examined as technologies of everyday innovation with a view toward constructive engagement, innovating with Africans rather than for them.

    • Hardcover $36.00

Contributor

  • Entangled Geographies

    Entangled Geographies

    Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War

    Gabrielle Hecht

    Investigations into how technologies became peculiar forms of politics in an expanded geography of the Cold War.

    The Cold War was not simply a duel of superpowers. It took place not just in Washington and Moscow but also in the social and political arenas of geographically far-flung countries emerging from colonial rule. Moreover, Cold War tensions were manifest not only in global political disputes but also in struggles over technology. Technological systems and expertise offered a powerful way to shape countries politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Entangled Geographies explores how Cold War politics, imperialism, and postcolonial nation building became entangled in technologies and considers the legacies of those entanglements for today's globalized world.

    The essays address such topics as the islands and atolls taken over for military and technological purposes by the supposedly non-imperial United States, apartheid-era South Africa's efforts to achieve international legitimacy as a nuclear nation, international technical assistance and Cold War politics, the Saudi irrigation system that spurred a Shi'i rebellion, and the momentary technopolitics of emergency as practiced by Medecins sans Frontières.

    The contributors to Entangled Geographies offer insights from the anthropology and history of development, from diplomatic history, and from science and technology studies. The book represents a unique synthesis of these three disciplines, providing new perspectives on the global Cold War.

    • Paperback $34.00