In this discussion, Samuel Shearer examines the triad of mechanical, physical, and social infrastructures that make up Kigali’s hydraulic present and designs on its future. Most Kigali residents access their water in spite of, not because of the city’s hydraulic infrastructure, completing the H2O distribution system with their bodies. Drawing on recent ethnographic research in Kigali, I argue that practices designed by Kigali residents to circumvent the city’s water shortage in the present are not just filling a distribution gap, but are being incorporated into plans for the city’s hydraulic future as a collective source of private gains.
For this series, The Future of the African City, the practice is to pre-circulate a paper, then get a quick summary of it from the author at the start of session, before hearing comments from a discussant, before opening things up for general discussion. The discussant for this paper will be Jon Stapnes from the Duke English department.
If you’d like to read the paper beforehand, please email Charlie Piot.
The African Cities Working Group is supported by the Humanities Futures initiative. This event is also part of the series, “The Future of the African City”, co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Duke Africa Initiative and organized by Professors John Bartlett, Charlie Piot, and Karin Shapiro.