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The Ordering Power of Technology

|   SPP Working Paper

Norman Schräpel, ed. (U Halle/Saale, Germany)

Publication Date2016
PublicationSPP Working Paper No. 22
PublisherDFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa"

The SPP 1448 “Adaptation and Creativity in Africa” held its second biannual results-conference in October 2014 in Saly, Senegal. Out of the discussions at the conference three Working Papers were organised. The Priority Programme has during the course of the past four years formed three ‘clusters’ to bring together the different topics, theoretical interests and regional contexts of the individual research projects. In these three clusters, the researchers concern themselves with ‘technologies’, ‘narratives / significations’ and ‘space’ as specific ‘conceptual lenses’ through which to explore the overarching objective of the programme, namely how creative adaptations enact specific forms of institutional dis / order. Aiming to elicit fruitful discussions within, but more importantly also between these three clusters, the format of the second biannual conference in Saly, Senegal centred on the presentation of short ‘vignettes’.

This Working Paper offers seven vignettes that all draw on technology as a sensitizing concept. During the course of the conference, two sessions were devoted discuss the way technologies can be conceptualised to understand process of dis / order in African contexts. The Working Paper starts with a brief introduction that draws on recent theoretical debates to summarize how technology can be conceptualised. The subsequent vignettes document the empirical material that was presented at the conference in Saly, Dakar. In addition to that, the Working Paper offers two prepared comments on the vignettes, each providing its own reading of the empirical situations by suggesting a number of ways to conceptualize technologies and dis / ordering practices.

Biographical Note
Since April 2011, Norman Schräpel is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Anthropology and Philosophy (U Halle7Saale, Germany) in the DFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa – Technologies and Significations in the Production of Order and Disorder". His principle research interest is the role of technologies (in particular information and communication technologies - ICTs) in the use for health care delivery. The ethnographic data of his research comes from (bio)medical contexts in South Africa and more recently from Rwanda. His research can be seen at the intersection of Social Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies and focuses on translations that these technologies provoke (e.g. new figurations, expectations and creative adaptations).