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Infrastructure as a divination tool: Whispers from the grids in a Nigerian city

City, 04 May 2015, Vol.19(2-3), p.332-343 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Infrastructure as a divination tool: Whispers from the grids in a Nigerian city
  • Author: Trovalla, Eric ; Trovalla, Ulrika
  • Found In: City, 04 May 2015, Vol.19(2-3), p.332-343 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Divination ; Infrastructure ; Nigeria ; African Cities ; Anthropology ; Urban Studies ; Materiality
  • Publication Details: Routledge
  • Language: English
  • Description: In the Nigerian city of Jos, everyday life is shaped by interlacing rhythms of disconnection and reconnection. Petrol, electricity, water, etc., come and go, and in order to gain access inhabitants constantly try to discern the logics behind these fluctuations. However, the unpredictable infrastructure also becomes a system of signs through which residents try to understand issues beyond those immediately at hand. Signals, pipes, wires and roads link individuals to larger wholes, and the character of these connections informs and transforms experiences of the social world. Not only an object, but also a means of divination, infrastructure is a harbinger of truths about elusive and mutable social entities—neighbourhoods, cities, nations and beyond. Through the materiality of infrastructure, its flows and glitches carefully read by the inhabitants, an increasingly disjointed city emerges. Through new experiences of differentiated modes of connectedness—of no longer sharing the same roads, pipes, electricity lines, etc.—narratives are formed around lost common trajectories. By focusing on how wires, pipes and roads are turned into a divination system—how the inhabitants of Jos try to divine the city's infrastructure and possible ways forward, as well as how they try, through the infrastructure, to predict a city, a nation and a world beyond—this paper strives to find ways to grasp a thickness of urban becomings—a cityness on the move according to its own unique logic.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 1360-4813 ; E-ISSN: 1470-3629 ; DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2015.1018061

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