Under Construction: Technologies of Development in Urban Ethiopia

Duke University Press
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Over the past decade, Ethiopia has had one of the world's fastest growing economies, largely due to its investments in infrastructure, and it is through building dams, roads, and other infrastructure that the Ethiopian state seeks to become a middle-income country by 2025. Yet most urban Ethiopians struggle to meet their daily needs and actively oppose a ruling party that they associate with corruption and mismanagement. In Under Construction Daniel Mains explores the intersection of development and governance by examining the conflicts surrounding the construction of specific infrastructural technologies: asphalt and cobblestone roads, motorcycle taxis, and hydroelectric dams. These projects serve as sites for nation building and the means for the state to assert its legitimacy. The construction process—as well as Ethiopians' experience of living with the disruption of construction zones—reveals the tension and conflict between the promise of progress and the possibility of failure. Mains demonstrates how infrastructures as both ethnographic sites and as a means of theorizing such concepts as progress, development, and the state offer a valuable contrast to accounts of African abjection and decline.
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About the author

Daniel Mains is Wick Cary Associate Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of Hope Is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Sep 13, 2019
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781478007043
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / East
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Will to Improve is a remarkable account of development in action. Focusing on attempts to improve landscapes and livelihoods in Indonesia, Tania Murray Li carefully exposes the practices that enable experts to diagnose problems and devise interventions, and the agency of people whose conduct is targeted for reform. Deftly integrating theory, ethnography, and history, she illuminates the work of colonial officials and missionaries; specialists in agriculture, hygiene, and credit; and political activists with their own schemes for guiding villagers toward better ways of life. She examines donor-funded initiatives that seek to integrate conservation with development through the participation of communities, and a one-billion-dollar program designed by the World Bank to optimize the social capital of villagers, inculcate new habits of competition and choice, and remake society from the bottom up.

Demonstrating that the “will to improve” has a long and troubled history, Li identifies enduring continuities from the colonial period to the present. She explores the tools experts have used to set the conditions for reform—tools that combine the reshaping of desires with applications of force. Attending in detail to the highlands of Sulawesi, she shows how a series of interventions entangled with one another and tracks their results, ranging from wealth to famine, from compliance to political mobilization, and from new solidarities to oppositional identities and violent attack. The Will to Improve is an engaging read—conceptually innovative, empirically rich, and alive with the actions and reflections of the targets of improvement, people with their own critical analyses of the problems that beset them.

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“The plot provided by the universe was filled with starvation, war and rape. I would not—could not—live in that tale.”
 
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In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY:
Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle •Chicago Tribune • The Christian Science Monitor • Publishers Weekly

In Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder gives us the story of one man’s inspiring American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances. Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life and shows us what it means to be fully human.

BONUS: This edition contains a Strength in What Remains discussion guide.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Named one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the year by Time • Named one of the year’s “10 Terrific Reads” by O: The Oprah Magazine

“Extraordinarily stirring . . . a miracle of human courage.”—The Washington Post

“Absorbing . . . a story about survival, about perseverance and sometimes uncanny luck in the face of hell on earth. . . . It is just as notably about profound human kindness.”—The New York Times

“Important and beautiful . . . This book is one you won’t forget.”—Portland Oregonian
Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival.

In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International—and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates. Subjected to conditions that break even the strongest spirits—physical injury, starvation, isolation, terror—Moore’s survival is a testament to his indomitable strength of mind. In September 2014, after 977 days, he walked free when his ransom was put together by the help of several US and German institutions, friends, colleagues, and his strong-willed mother. 

Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history. Caught between Muslim pirates, the looming threat of Al-Shabaab, and the rise of ISIS, Moore observes the worlds that surrounded him—the economics and history of piracy; the effects of post-colonialism; the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom; while also conjuring the various faces of Islam—and places his ordeal in the context of the larger political and historical issues.           

A sort of Catch-22 meets Black Hawk Down, The Desert and the Sea is written with dark humor, candor, and a journalist’s clinical distance and eye for detail. Moore offers an intimate and otherwise inaccessible view of life as we cannot fathom it, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the social, economic, religious, and political factors creating it. The Desert and the Sea is wildly compelling and a book that will take its place next to titles like Den of Lions and Even Silence Has an End.

At 4:00 am, Leonida Wanyama lit a lantern in her house made of sticks and mud. She was up long before the sun to begin her farm work, as usual. But this would be no ordinary day, this second Friday of the new year. This was the day Leonida and a group of smallholder farmers in western Kenya would begin their exodus, as she said, “from misery to Canaan,” the land of milk and honey.Africa’s smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, know misery. They toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as their forebears did a century ago. With tired seeds, meager soil nutrition, primitive storage facilities, wretched roads, and no capital or credit, they harvest less than one-quarter the yields of Western farmers. The romantic ideal of African farmers––rural villagers in touch with nature, tending bucolic fields––is in reality a horror scene of malnourished children, backbreaking manual work, and profound hopelessness. Growing food is their driving preoccupation, and still they don’t have enough to feed their families throughout the year. The wanjala––the annual hunger season that can stretch from one month to as many as eight or nine––abides.But in January 2011, Leonida and her neighbors came together and took the enormous risk of trying to change their lives. Award-winning author and world hunger activist Roger Thurow spent a year with four of them––Leonida Wanyama, Rasoa Wasike, Francis Mamati, and Zipporah Biketi––to intimately chronicle their efforts. In The Last Hunger Season, he illuminates the profound challenges these farmers and their families face, and follows them through the seasons to see whether, with a little bit of help from a new social enterprise organization called One Acre Fund, they might transcend lives of dire poverty and hunger.The daily dramas of the farmers’ lives unfold against the backdrop of a looming global challenge: to feed a growing population, world food production must nearly double by 2050. If these farmers succeed, so might we all.
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