Eldoret: An African Poetics of Technology

Eldoret: An African Poetics of Technology

by Richard M. Swiderski
     
 
"This book began," says the author, "as a chronicle of a direct encounter with familiar technology in different hands, and gradually became an act of support for those uses and the people responsible. Its writing was part of having the same needs as everyone else in this African town, but having in addition a special ability to record and transmit the record of the

Overview

"This book began," says the author, "as a chronicle of a direct encounter with familiar technology in different hands, and gradually became an act of support for those uses and the people responsible. Its writing was part of having the same needs as everyone else in this African town, but having in addition a special ability to record and transmit the record of the needs' fulfillment. The book brings the reader into the world of getting through the week, every week, while routines suddenly turn and become history."

Eldoret: An African Poetics of Technology is both a history and an anthropology of technology. As author Swiderski explains in the introduction, "Poetics', derived from the Greek verb poem meaning 'to make or do,' has as much to do with technology (material making) as with poetry (verbal making), and refers to the ongoing act of assembly that can look like the passage of time or the eternity of culture, and is actually both. It is an African poetics because the act of assembly is motivated by African conditions, and executed through the genius and strength of the African people." The resulting ethnography, illustrated with 32 of the author's delightful line drawings, is unconventional in design and brilliantly executed. It will be of considerable interest and value not only to cultural anthropologists but to many in geography, economics, business, technology studies, and allied fields.

Drawing on his personal experience in living in Eldoret, Swiderski creates an impressionistic sketch of the hybridization of imported and indigenous technologies in this community, and of the varied patterns that are created as the residents of the town and its hinterland employ these technologies in everyday life. The poetic focus on technology is a creative and effective device for exploring many wider issues--entrepreneurship, resource management, wealth, poverty, structural unemployment, gender relations, ethnic and class conflict, and other problems of life and development in Third World communities.

Swiderski's unconventional approach sets this book apart from other studies focusing on the adaptation of technologies in Third World cultures. His descriptions of urban scenes are uniformly vivid, and his presentation of the ambiance of modern Africa is compelling. Eldoret will be warmly welcomed by students and scholars in a wide range of fields.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Through an impressionistic examination of the many indigenous and imported technologies of one small town in the Kenyan highlands, the author (an anthropologist) explores much wider issues of poverty, structural unemployment, gender relations, ethnic and class conflict, and the problems of development in the Third World. Drawing on two years spent in the town of Eldoret, Swiderski includes 32 of his lovely, quirky line drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816514946
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
02/28/1995
Series:
Culture and Technology Series
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.95(d)

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