Workhop on infrastructure and politics of circulation at the Danish Institute of International Studies, 3-4 November 2016. With Brenda Chalfin, Michael Watts, Luis Lobo-Guerrero, AFRIGOS and many others. Organised by Peer Schouten, Finn Stepputat (both DIIS) and Jan Bachmann (Global Studies, University of Gotenburg). Paper presented (Jana Hönke with Iván Cueasta- Fernandez):
NEW POLITICAL GEOGRAPHIES OF LARGE-SCALE ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURES: A ‘TOPOLOGRAPHY’ OF THE PORT OF DAR ES SALAAM
Economic infrastructure hubs, such as ports, are crucial sites for exploring new political geographies. In such environments, mobilities are enabled and rigidly channelled premised on the stasis of the port- as-checkpoint. Such nodes are part of an ever-growing political geography of zones that requires more attention. To overcome the often overdrawn opposition between fixity and mobility, absolute and relative space, this article proposes a ‘topolographical’ approach – a combined heuristic drawing from political topography and topology – to comprehend more fully the transformations in the political geographies of large-scale infrastructures. The cardinal nature of the port of Dar es Salaam makes it a crucial site through which to illustrate the purchase of this framework. The topographical analysis puts forward the port of Dar as ‘archipelago of global territories’, within which heterogeneous actors claim authority. Through the lens of topology, the article shows what is folded into the port, constantly shaping not only who governs but, more importantly, how power and authority are exercised. It will be shown how imaginaries of the port - as gateway, seamless space, and modernity ‘from scratch’ - as much as new technological devices yield effects on political topographies, and indeed bring new ones into being.