Infrastructures are technologies that undergird the organization of modern societies in Africa. Yet they also produce the ambient experience of everyday life – the smell of a place, the feeling of its temperature, its luminescence or darkness, and the sense of speed or breakdown. Everyday life is comprised of a series of ubiquitous yet ephemeral events, produced in part by infrastructures, yet that slip between the borders of academic analysis. What is the experience of sitting on a bus, waiting for a document to come back from a bureaucrat, securing electricity supply, living next to a noisy generator? What sensory experiences accompany and frame these everyday activities in urban spaces? Through this conference, we seek to examine the ephemeral forms of sensual and aesthetic experience that infrastructures provoke and see how these quotidian experiences are exemplary of broader political, social, and economic realities. We examine both infrastructural technologies themselves and the forms of life those technologies give rise to. For this, we encourage contributions from academics in all fields and disciplines as well as fiction writers, photographers, and filmmakers in an attempt to find a new language and new forms of description for the ambient forms of infrastructural life in Africa. This conference is scheduled to take place at Columbia University on Friday, March 6, 2015.
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