Call for Abstract Submissions: Special Issue of Technology and Culture ‘Africanizing the History of Technology’
Special Issue Editor: Laura Ann Twagira (Wesleyan University)
Africa has long been a space of technological innovation and adaptation despite popular Western media depictions to the contrary. African historians have documented the rich traditions of potters, iron workers, and architects. In fact Africa is also at the center of twentieth-century global technological stories such as the world wars and nuclear proliferation. Yet, technological histories treating Africa more often tell stories of colonial and post-colonial knowledge transfers, uneven power dynamics, or even failed development. While Africans often re-appropriate these technologies for their own purposes in these same histories, the broader narrative is driven by an assumption of Africa as a continent lacking technological knowledge or innovation.
Several scholars of technology in Africa are now challenging this idea by documenting creative adaptations of photographic technologies, hi-fi stereo systems, and contemporary media technologies to name a few examples. Industrial workers, automobile drivers, and hunters have similarly created new technological cultures and challenged their limits. At the same time many twentieth century African medical professionals and others have responded to technologically ‘poor’ environments by improvising basic solutions. This special issue aims to place Africans at the center of the history of technology as creative agents of innovation, improvisation, and invention. In highlighting and interrogating Africa’s technological stories this collection of articles will ask: How are technology stories on the continent rooted in a longer history of African experiences? How do the emerging technological cultures of the recent past contribute to our broader understandings of technology in society? What theoretical insights can we learn by starting with the experiences of Africans and how might they be applied more broadly in global histories of technology?
Overall the editor seeks manuscripts that explore technological stories rooted in African experiences and the ways in which Africans have been creative agents in creating technological change on the continent and in global contexts. The editor invites submissions from scholars in disciplines other than history whose work engages historical methodologies and analyses. Given that the editor’s intention is to produce a volume that is at once analytically rigorous and pedagogically useful, manuscripts that offer conceptual or theoretical discussion will be considered, in addition to articles that are empirically-grounded case studies. The editor encourages contributors to submit work that falls under one or more of the following rubrics: 1) Technologies of Gender, Identity, and Knowledge Production; 2) Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Development; 3) Imagining New and Old Technological Cultures, and 4) Technological Cultures of Health and Healing
Please submit abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 15, 2015 with ‘Special Issue Africanizing the History of Technology’ in the subject line. Invitations to submit manuscripts will be issued in September 2015.