Colloquium: Brian Larkin

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 21/10/2016
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location
AP 246

Categories


Generator LifeFriday, October 21, 2016

Prof. Brian Larkin (Barnard College, Columbia University)
Generator Life
Anthropology Colloquium Series co-sponsored by the UTSC Centre for Ethnography
2:00-4:00pm, AP 246, 19 Russell St.

At one end of a generator petrol pours in.  At the other, electricity, smoke, and sound flood out.  Like a living being the generator ingests and expels.  In Nigeria generators were once icons of elite mobility known by the name ‘better pass my neighbour’.  Now they are ubiquitous, coming in all sizes, their sound, smell and presence absolutely integral to how Nigeria functions.

This paper examines generator life. It focuses on their physicality, how generators shape the technologized, ambient environment of urban Nigeria and the daily virtuosity required to obtain petrol, fill, operate and repair the generator.  To live a life organized by the generator means to restructure rooms, houses, buildings, cities to take into account generator use.  It involves knowing when to turn it on and off, which appliances can be used when it is on and which not, how to protect it from elements.  I thus focus on the technology of the generator and the cultural techniques it engenders as a means of inquiring into the relations between technology, the body and urban life.

 

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