“Containers, Carriers, Vehicles”

Three Views of Mobility from Africa

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  • 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • | 2 University of Ghent
  • | 3 KU Leuven University and University of Birmingham
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This introduction launches the new portfolio of articles on African mobilities and situates the three articles of this special section within the portfolio’s approach. This could be summarized in three key objectives. First, it seeks to highlight the inadequacy of enthusing in Africa simply as a venue where the itineraries of things and people from outside take place. Second, African mobilities is a way to signal the mobilities of Africans and things “African” in the world. Third, African mobilities is a theoretical standpoint. It serves as a critique of Western notions of mobility that have been universalized, built on nostalgia about what one, following Western ethnocentric assumptions, readily concludes are the technological and scientific wonders.

Contributor Notes

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a research associate of the Center for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA). He studied for his doctorate at the University of Michigan, his MA at Wits, and BA Honors at the University of Zimbabwe. He is the author of Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe (MIT Press, 2015). Email: mavhunga@mit.edu

Jeroen Cuvelier is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Conflict Research Group of Ghent University. He obtained his PhD in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Leuven, with a dissertation on the construction of masculinities among artisanal miners in the Congolese Katanga province. His current research interests include gender, mining-induced displacement and resettlement, and the politics of belonging. Email: jeroen.cuvelier@ugent.be

Katrien Pype works as a research professor at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa at the KU Leuven University (Belgium) and is also a fellow in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham (UK). Her main interests are in media and popular culture, and have gradually expanded to technology, mainly communication and information technologies and their connections to urban sociality in African cities. She has published her research findings in journals such as Journal of Modern African Studies; Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology; and Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society. Her book on the production of television serials, The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama. Religion, Media and Gender in Kinshasa, was published by Berghahn Books in 2012. Email: Katrien.Pype@kuleuven.be