Democracy’s Infrastructure: Techno-Politics and Protest after Apartheid (Princeton Studies in Culture and Technology, 9)

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In the previous decade, South Africa’s “miracle transition” has been interrupted by waves of protests in relation to primary providers resembling water and electrical energy. Less visibly, the post-apartheid interval has witnessed widespread illicit acts involving infrastructure, together with the nonpayment of service expenses, the bypassing of metering gadgets, and unlawful connections to providers. Democracy’s Infrastructure exhibits how such administrative hyperlinks to the state turned a central political terrain in the course of the antiapartheid battle and how this terrain persists in the post-apartheid current. Focusing on conflicts surrounding pay as you go water meters, Antina von Schnitzler examines the techno-political varieties by means of which democracy takes form.

Von Schnitzler explores a controversial mission to put in pay as you go water meters in Soweto―considered one of many efforts to curb the nonpayment of service expenses that started in the course of the antiapartheid battle―and she traces how infrastructure, fee, and technical procedures grow to be websites the place citizenship is mediated and contested. She follows engineers, utility officers, and native bureaucrats as they take into account methods to immediate Sowetans to pay for water, and she exhibits how native residents and activists wrestle with the constraints imposed by meters. This investigation of democracy from the attitude of infrastructure reframes the standard story of South Africa’s transition, foregrounding the much less seen remainders of apartheid and difficult readers to assume in extra materials phrases about citizenship and activism in the postcolonial world.

Democracy’s Infrastructure examines how seemingly mundane technological domains grow to be charged territory for struggles over South Africa’s political transformation.

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