Constructing African Mobility for Poverty Reduction through North-South Flows of End-of-Life Objects

Authors: Lucy Baker*,
Topics: Transportation Geography, Africa, Urban Geography
Keywords: Mobility, bicycles, second-hand materials, Africa, development, consumption
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper critically examines how forms of African mobility are conceptualised and produced in development networks, for certain places and subjects, using second-hand objects from the Global North to be re-valued for the Global South. Tracing the movement of end-of-life bicycles, the paper demonstrates how mobility is framed for development subjects whom are imagined to be adult, economically productive, and rural. In a development network that values adult mobility and productivity, children’s mobility and accounts of play are marginalised. The dominant mobility concept is framed in the North by development organisations under pressure to provide demonstrable accountability to funders in the form of measurable impacts. The politics of these aid-chains and relationships of dependency, mean that values and agendas are dominated by concepts flowing from the Global North, which are transported by both international and local development organisations. This paper evidences how development organisations frame a justification for transport development to take place predominantly in a rural context, whilst excluding urban mobilities. I argue that this narrowing of perspective, driven by wider influences of development networks, needs to be further reaching in scope to be inclusive of urban mobility. A de-colonisation of transport development will also be inclusive of the emotive and embodied aspects of mobility, such as the bicycle’s function in identity creation for Africans to move in ways that are not only rural, or agrarian. This paper calls for a de-colonisation of transport that expands perspectives beyond the economic function of African mobility.

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