City: Leipzig, Germany
Organiser: Richard Rottenburg & René Umlauf

Panel “Lifeworld and Technology” at the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD e.V.) Conference, 27-30 June 2018 in Leipzig, Germany.

Technology gains increasing relevance in most African countries. Agendas of the largest multi- and bilateral organizations promote the use of innovative technologies and emphasize the hopes and benefits a more (technologically) connected Africa could bring to the rest of the world. Even beyond development scenarios, the everydayness of many African citizens is strongly affected by technology. Be it in the form of concrete devices like a cell phones or more in form of complex networks or systems e.g. water, sanitation or electricity infrastructures – the everyday lifeworld of most Africans has been significantly shaped by the use of as well as exposure to modern technologies. In this panel, we will explore the inescapable intertwinement of ‘technicization’ and the ‘lifeworld’ – on the topic of which the German philosopher Hans Blumenberg points out that the two cannot readily be treated apart, and that ‘technicization is lifeworld’. The panel calls for contributions that relate the technology/lifeworld complex to persisting questions of rationalization and standardization – as these are the legitimizations and effects of the infrastructures of modernity, deeply implicated in its institutions, in its administrations and bureaucracies, forecasting, and surveillance systems. We invite conceptual as well as empirical contributions that focus on but are not limited to questions like:

  • How can we study the relation between technology and lifeworld? What are the methodological implications/challenges?
  • What are the onto-epistemic insights/values of thinking technology as integral part the lifeworld?
  • How can these insights be related to already existing concepts like e.g. adaptation and translation?