Solar Possibilities: Electric Pastoralism and the Role of Experimentation in Encouraging Innovation from Tanzania
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Comparative Studies Honors Theses; 2019
Solar energy development in Tanzania is steeped in discourses of Western technological transfer whereby the devices themselves are lauded as central innovating agents. In this thesis, drawing from ethnographic work on Tanzania’s solar landscape, including 50 unstructured interviews with Maasai pastoralists, city-dwellers of Arusha, Tanzania, and representatives from foreign solar companies, I show how Tanzanians reconfigure incoming solar energy devices through locally-generated knowledges, philosophies, and technologies in calculated efforts to chart their own futures. I underscore how Maasai pastoralists are central innovating agents in a shifting socioeconomic landscape who repurpose solar technologies as tools of negotiation between “modern” development initiatives and their own desires to remain anchored to elastic ancestral traditions that are often-characterized by their special relationship with livestock. I then discuss other instances of Tanzanian innovation—battery charging, electronics repair, and solar entrepreneurship—to suggest that experimentation (with risk) constitutes a productive direction for technological collaborations between Tanzanians and others committed to innovation from Tanzania.
3rd Place at Denman Research Forum
Academic Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Honors and Scholars Enrichment Grant College of Engineering Research Grant The Public Narrative Collaborative Small Grant
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