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Garages and Oil: Histories of African Innovation in Two Technological Registers
April 13 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Join the Department of History on April 13 from 4:30 p.m – 6 p.m. for “Garages and Oil: Histories of African Innovation in Two Technological Registers.” Speaker Joshua Grace, an Associate Professor of History and McCausland Faculty Fellow at the University of South Carolina, explores the intersection of histories of technology, development, and African innovation in Tanzania, East Africa.
Meeting ID: 919 0367 0225
Why do histories of African technological innovation matter? Based on Grace’s recently published book, African Motors, this talk provides one set of answers to this question by examining African innovations in their historical multiples. Moving from garages to oil trading, and thus from mechanics to bureaucrats, this talk argues that detailed histories of African technological innovation counter stubborn colonialist narratives about African technological lack, provide foundational evidence for writing African-centered histories of development, and show alternative configurations of technology, society, and development.
About the speaker
Grace’s research explores the intersection of histories of technology, development, and African innovation in Tanzania, East Africa. Grace’s first book, African Motors: Gender, Technology, and the History of Development (2021) was a finalist for the Bethwell A. Ogot Prize. Based in extensive oral history and archival research, the book examines the myriad ways African users and experts created, maintained, and repaired worlds of movement and development on their own terms from the 1860s to the near present. His second project, “Ufundi: Technical Swahili and the Roots of Collective Know-How in Independent East Africa,” approaches Swahili as a technical language that has long facilitated the formation and communication of esoteric knowledge. His research has been funded by Fulbright, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by the American Council for Learned Societies.