An ethnography of adaptation technologies:The case of Chololo (eco)village, Tanzania

Lala, Margherita (2020) An ethnography of adaptation technologies:The case of Chololo (eco)village, Tanzania. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Climate change is one of the major issues characterising the contemporary global world. This thesis aims to understand how adaptation (and, in some cases, mitigation) technologies – and the practices in which they are embedded – work at the ‘local’ level. It also investigates how these, in turn, are intertwined with emerging dynamics of social justice at the ‘community’ level, as embedded in current global adaptation strategies. With this objective, my analysis focuses on the Chololo Ecovillage Project, implemented in rural Tanzania between 2011 and 2014. This project was part of The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), an initiative of the European Union to ‘address the challenges associated with climate change’ (Chololo Ecovillage, 2014). In order to develop my research on technology and adaptation, I adopted an ethnographic approach based on ten months of participant observation in the (eco)village of Chololo, 20 focus groups and 68 semi–structured interviews. I developed a practice theory approach to adaptation based on the understanding of sustainability of Shove and Spurling (2013). More specifically, following Andrew Sayer’s (2013) constructive critique, I introduced Bourdieu’s (1977) and Ortner’s (2006) perspective on practice theory and a post colonialist view (Mbembe, 2001). The theoretical analysis of the ‘improved’ technologies introduced in Chololo, moreover, can be read in continuity with some of the literature in Anthropology of Development, from the ‘90s onwards (Crewe & Harrison, 1998; Escobar, 1997; Mosse, 2004b). In light of this theoretical framework, the thesis has considered the case of the technologies of ‘improved’ bulls and ‘improved’ stoves. The analysis of the ethnographic material led me to argue that Ecovillages, even if partially conceived as social engineering experiments, are in fact a representational model based on the introduction of ‘improved’ technologies as ‘technical fixes’ (Rosner, 2004). They lack equity, legitimacy and, therefore, also effectiveness (and partially efficiency) (Adger et al., 2005).The case of Chololo Ecovillage empirically shows that there is an urgent need, in current adaptation strategies, to go ‘beyond technical fixes’ (Nightingale et al., 2019).

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Thesis (PhD)
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07 Dec 2020 09:50
Last Modified:
27 Jan 2021 14:28