Issues

Journal & Issues

Volume 16 (2022): Issue 1 (June 2022)

Volume 15 (2021): Issue 2 (December 2021)

Volume 15 (2021): Issue 1 (June 2021)

Volume 14 (2020): Issue 2 (December 2020)

Volume 14 (2020): Issue 1 (June 2020)

Volume 13 (2019): Issue 2 (December 2019)

Volume 13 (2019): Issue 1 (June 2019)

Volume 12 (2018): Issue 1 (September 2018)

Volume 11 (2017): Issue 1 (September 2017)

Volume 10 (2016): Issue 1 (September 2016)

Journal Details
Format
Journal
eISSN
1646-7752
First Published
16 Jun 2016
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English

Search

Volume 16 (2022): Issue 1 (June 2022)

Journal Details
Format
Journal
eISSN
1646-7752
First Published
16 Jun 2016
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English

Search

10 Articles

Thematic Dossier – The History of East Africa’s Critical Infrastructure

access type Open Access

Introduction: The History of East Africa’s Critical Infrastructure

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 1 - 6

Abstract

access type Open Access

Colonial Railways of Mozambique: Critical and Vulnerable Infrastructure, 1880s-1930s

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 7 - 28

Abstract

Abstract

In the early 1880s, Portugal began the construction of railways in its colonies. The main goals were to reinforce Portuguese presence and increase colonial revenue. This paper aims to analyse the transnational railways built in Mozambique, between the 1880s and the 1930s, as critical infrastructure (or critical systems). I argue that the lack of railways in Mozambique was the cause for deep concern and fostered a “sense of urgency” among the Portuguese authorities, as this could potentially jeopardise the Portuguese imperial project. Railways were considered critical to bolstering Portugal’s sovereignty, as well as to exploit local resources and attract traffic from neighbouring territories. Once built, the railways revealed two major vulnerabilities: competition from South African ports and dependence on British capital. A few episodes involving Portuguese and British agents highlighted these vulnerabilities and motivated Portuguese policymakers to find solutions. This paper explores these topics based on a comprehensive literature review and the use of primary sources, intended to provide a novel approach to Portuguese colonial railways.

Keywords

  • critical infrastructures
  • colonialism
  • imperialism
  • scramble for Africa
  • history of technology
access type Open Access

Planned Vulnerabilities? Street Flooding and Drainage Infrastructure in Colonial Dar es Salaam

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 29 - 47

Abstract

Abstract

Technology can be both a problem and a solution in connection with critical events like road flooding in cities. This article explores how roadwork undertaken during German and British colonial rule created a situation which has, ever since, made the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) vulnerable to flooding. The article identifies colonial spatial planning, a globally circulating engineering culture, and an undue emphasis on anti-malarial measures as the main causes of the flood vulnerability of roads. After decades of neglect, repeatedly flooded streets made the construction of drainage infrastructure an increasingly necessary preventive solution. Only slowly did drainage become an integral feature of road design, thus decreasing the city’s vulnerability to floods. Drawing on analyses of archival and documentary sources, the article contends that the making of the vulnerability and criticality of roads and drainage systems unfolded within a socio-technical context which reflects colonial structures and terrains in the Global South.

Keywords

  • master plans
  • drainage engineering
  • flood vulnerability
  • critical infrastructure
  • Tanzania
access type Open Access

Wells and Boreholes: Resilient Water Provision in Nairobi

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 48 - 72

Abstract

Abstract

In most Global South cities, the majority of urban residents, especially those in informal settlements, continue to survive off the main infrastructural grid. In Nairobi for instance, over 60% of residents live in informal settlements, defined by widespread squalor and shortage of key infrastructures for everyday living. Despite their existence as unplanned, these informal settlements have witnessed some forms of innovation around alternative technologies for water provision. Through oral and archival sources, this article shows that although large infrastructural systems are critical to urban dwellers, Nairobi’s waterscape has always found its resilience in a quilted landscape of water supply technologies. As part of this quilt, boreholes and wells have long been essential, either as key solutions or as complements to the main supply system. The author explores the development of Nairobi’s centralised formal water supply system from 1899 to date locating inherently built vulnerabilities that are born out of the dependency on large infrastructural systems. He concludes that the centralised piped water supply system is critical hence vulnerable, and that urban resilience for both the poor and rich urban class, is built on alternatives that ensure multiplicity of access and usage.

Keywords

  • water
  • Nairobi
  • resilience
  • vulnerability
  • preparedness
access type Open Access

Resilience from Below: Technicians, Repair and Maintenance Works in Post-socialist Dar es Salaam, 1985-2020

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 73 - 98

Abstract

Abstract

Since its establishment by the German East Africa Railway Company in 1906, Dar es Salaam’s electricity infrastructure has been functioning precariously. Tanzania’s national power company (Tanesco) collaborated with donors to ameliorate these problems, but to no avail. Tanzania’s cities continued to experience both cascading and rolling blackouts, and such breakdowns of infrastructure became critical, especially from the 1980s onward, making electricity consumers vulnerable. This article illustrates that the failure of Tanesco’s systems does not mean that inhabitants in the city have remained passively exposed to the consequences of power breakdowns. Based on interviews, a literature review, and archival material, it demonstrates that electricians have become part and parcel of a socio-technical landscape that has enhanced household resilience—the ability to survive in a country partly plagued by failing critical infrastructure. The article reveals the active role played by formally and informally trained electricians (mafundi) in forging alternative solutions, increasing electricity users’ ability to cope with power outages. Employing innovative skills to repair electrical appliances and tinker with Tanesco’s infrastructure, street electricians increased the resilience of residential electricity users in the face of recurrent power failures. The author argues that urban resilience studies in African cities like Dar es Salaam need to consider street technicians to gain a full understanding of households’ responses to vulnerable electric infrastructure.

Keywords

  • Dar es Salaam
  • technicians
  • repair
  • electricity
  • resilience

Varia

access type Open Access

Colonial Impacts on Water Supplies: An Historical Review of Sluice Technologies in Ancient Sri Lankan Irrigation

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 99 - 120

Abstract

Abstract

As a measure of reducing the foreign trade deficit and to augment the usable land for commercial plantations, nineteenth century British authorities attempted to restore the irrigation system that prevailed in Sri Lanka since the Early Historic Period. In so doing, neither the system components were subjected to any hydraulic engineering analysis nor the entire systems were studied in a holistic context. The open well structure, called bisokotuva, of the ancient sluices was interpreted as the equivalent of the modern valve pits. With this understanding, ancient sluices were restored by installing the flow control gates inside the bisokotuvas. This article argues that such understanding was not based on the actual physical remains of the ancient works but was due to the colonial precept of controlled flows of irrigated water. It also discusses similar cases in several other Asian countries and how such assertions affected the European understanding on the Asian societies.

Keywords

  • ancient irrigation systems
  • colonial interpretations
  • sluice technologies
  • Asian historical studies

Distinguished Lecture

access type Open Access

From the Quadrivium to Modern Science

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 121 - 132

Abstract

Abstract

The ultimate objective of this work is to demonstrate that it is possible to reconsider the emergence of modern science as a process of disintegration of the quadrivium, which was considered a stable scheme for the organization of knowledge. The argument considers the quadrivium according to the Boethian systematization that was used to organize the curricula of the late medieval universities. This argument follows the development of each of its disciplines and illustrates the practical turn they underwent. The period between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries is explored, and shows that during this period, the quadrivium potentially included a fifth autonomous discipline, calendric. The article concludes by describing epistemological considerations to the mechanisms of disintegration of knowledge structures.

Keywords

  • Boethius
  • quadrivium
  • calendric
  • knowledge structure
  • practical turn

Book Reviews

10 Articles

Thematic Dossier – The History of East Africa’s Critical Infrastructure

access type Open Access

Introduction: The History of East Africa’s Critical Infrastructure

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 1 - 6

Abstract

access type Open Access

Colonial Railways of Mozambique: Critical and Vulnerable Infrastructure, 1880s-1930s

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 7 - 28

Abstract

Abstract

In the early 1880s, Portugal began the construction of railways in its colonies. The main goals were to reinforce Portuguese presence and increase colonial revenue. This paper aims to analyse the transnational railways built in Mozambique, between the 1880s and the 1930s, as critical infrastructure (or critical systems). I argue that the lack of railways in Mozambique was the cause for deep concern and fostered a “sense of urgency” among the Portuguese authorities, as this could potentially jeopardise the Portuguese imperial project. Railways were considered critical to bolstering Portugal’s sovereignty, as well as to exploit local resources and attract traffic from neighbouring territories. Once built, the railways revealed two major vulnerabilities: competition from South African ports and dependence on British capital. A few episodes involving Portuguese and British agents highlighted these vulnerabilities and motivated Portuguese policymakers to find solutions. This paper explores these topics based on a comprehensive literature review and the use of primary sources, intended to provide a novel approach to Portuguese colonial railways.

Keywords

  • critical infrastructures
  • colonialism
  • imperialism
  • scramble for Africa
  • history of technology
access type Open Access

Planned Vulnerabilities? Street Flooding and Drainage Infrastructure in Colonial Dar es Salaam

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 29 - 47

Abstract

Abstract

Technology can be both a problem and a solution in connection with critical events like road flooding in cities. This article explores how roadwork undertaken during German and British colonial rule created a situation which has, ever since, made the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) vulnerable to flooding. The article identifies colonial spatial planning, a globally circulating engineering culture, and an undue emphasis on anti-malarial measures as the main causes of the flood vulnerability of roads. After decades of neglect, repeatedly flooded streets made the construction of drainage infrastructure an increasingly necessary preventive solution. Only slowly did drainage become an integral feature of road design, thus decreasing the city’s vulnerability to floods. Drawing on analyses of archival and documentary sources, the article contends that the making of the vulnerability and criticality of roads and drainage systems unfolded within a socio-technical context which reflects colonial structures and terrains in the Global South.

Keywords

  • master plans
  • drainage engineering
  • flood vulnerability
  • critical infrastructure
  • Tanzania
access type Open Access

Wells and Boreholes: Resilient Water Provision in Nairobi

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 48 - 72

Abstract

Abstract

In most Global South cities, the majority of urban residents, especially those in informal settlements, continue to survive off the main infrastructural grid. In Nairobi for instance, over 60% of residents live in informal settlements, defined by widespread squalor and shortage of key infrastructures for everyday living. Despite their existence as unplanned, these informal settlements have witnessed some forms of innovation around alternative technologies for water provision. Through oral and archival sources, this article shows that although large infrastructural systems are critical to urban dwellers, Nairobi’s waterscape has always found its resilience in a quilted landscape of water supply technologies. As part of this quilt, boreholes and wells have long been essential, either as key solutions or as complements to the main supply system. The author explores the development of Nairobi’s centralised formal water supply system from 1899 to date locating inherently built vulnerabilities that are born out of the dependency on large infrastructural systems. He concludes that the centralised piped water supply system is critical hence vulnerable, and that urban resilience for both the poor and rich urban class, is built on alternatives that ensure multiplicity of access and usage.

Keywords

  • water
  • Nairobi
  • resilience
  • vulnerability
  • preparedness
access type Open Access

Resilience from Below: Technicians, Repair and Maintenance Works in Post-socialist Dar es Salaam, 1985-2020

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 73 - 98

Abstract

Abstract

Since its establishment by the German East Africa Railway Company in 1906, Dar es Salaam’s electricity infrastructure has been functioning precariously. Tanzania’s national power company (Tanesco) collaborated with donors to ameliorate these problems, but to no avail. Tanzania’s cities continued to experience both cascading and rolling blackouts, and such breakdowns of infrastructure became critical, especially from the 1980s onward, making electricity consumers vulnerable. This article illustrates that the failure of Tanesco’s systems does not mean that inhabitants in the city have remained passively exposed to the consequences of power breakdowns. Based on interviews, a literature review, and archival material, it demonstrates that electricians have become part and parcel of a socio-technical landscape that has enhanced household resilience—the ability to survive in a country partly plagued by failing critical infrastructure. The article reveals the active role played by formally and informally trained electricians (mafundi) in forging alternative solutions, increasing electricity users’ ability to cope with power outages. Employing innovative skills to repair electrical appliances and tinker with Tanesco’s infrastructure, street electricians increased the resilience of residential electricity users in the face of recurrent power failures. The author argues that urban resilience studies in African cities like Dar es Salaam need to consider street technicians to gain a full understanding of households’ responses to vulnerable electric infrastructure.

Keywords

  • Dar es Salaam
  • technicians
  • repair
  • electricity
  • resilience

Varia

access type Open Access

Colonial Impacts on Water Supplies: An Historical Review of Sluice Technologies in Ancient Sri Lankan Irrigation

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 99 - 120

Abstract

Abstract

As a measure of reducing the foreign trade deficit and to augment the usable land for commercial plantations, nineteenth century British authorities attempted to restore the irrigation system that prevailed in Sri Lanka since the Early Historic Period. In so doing, neither the system components were subjected to any hydraulic engineering analysis nor the entire systems were studied in a holistic context. The open well structure, called bisokotuva, of the ancient sluices was interpreted as the equivalent of the modern valve pits. With this understanding, ancient sluices were restored by installing the flow control gates inside the bisokotuvas. This article argues that such understanding was not based on the actual physical remains of the ancient works but was due to the colonial precept of controlled flows of irrigated water. It also discusses similar cases in several other Asian countries and how such assertions affected the European understanding on the Asian societies.

Keywords

  • ancient irrigation systems
  • colonial interpretations
  • sluice technologies
  • Asian historical studies

Distinguished Lecture

access type Open Access

From the Quadrivium to Modern Science

Published Online: 24 Jun 2022
Page range: 121 - 132

Abstract

Abstract

The ultimate objective of this work is to demonstrate that it is possible to reconsider the emergence of modern science as a process of disintegration of the quadrivium, which was considered a stable scheme for the organization of knowledge. The argument considers the quadrivium according to the Boethian systematization that was used to organize the curricula of the late medieval universities. This argument follows the development of each of its disciplines and illustrates the practical turn they underwent. The period between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries is explored, and shows that during this period, the quadrivium potentially included a fifth autonomous discipline, calendric. The article concludes by describing epistemological considerations to the mechanisms of disintegration of knowledge structures.

Keywords

  • Boethius
  • quadrivium
  • calendric
  • knowledge structure
  • practical turn

Book Reviews

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