From Muskets to Nokias

The individual research projects that make up From Muskets to Nokias together represent an attempt to rewrite the history of the Zambian and Congolese copperbelts and their hinterlands through the lenses of technology and consumption, and their relations to social organization.

Description

Firearms and mobile phones are fitting examples of the kind of foreign technological innovations that Central African peoples have appropriated and absorbed within their social structures over the course of the past three centuries of their history.

The individual research projects that make up From Muskets to Nokias together represent an attempt to rewrite the history of the Zambian and Congolese copperbelts and their hinterlands through the lenses of technology and consumption, and their relations to social organization.

Adopting an explicitly social historical perspective, all the members of the proposed research team will seek to understand the changing dynamics of African engagement with the products of industrial technology and the impact of the transformation of consumption patterns upon the region's social structures and related notions of wealth.

Set in a much deeper chronological framework than has hitherto been the case, From Muskets to Nokias moves away from a teleological narrative of oppression and exploitation with a view to reinstating Africans as independent economic agents. It thereby intends to avoid the obfuscation of the full range of Central African peoples' social experiences which has so often marred materialist interpretations of the region's history because they portray rural Africans as mere pawns in the impersonal clash between capital and organized labour.


Researchers

Prof.dr. R.J. Ross


Dr. J.B. Gewald


Last Modified: 22-07-2014