Ethical Infrastructures: Tech, Environment, and Sustainability in Africa
Ethical Infrastructures is a series of interdisciplinary discussions focused on the industrial, social, and environmental impacts of technology on the continent. Hosted by our center, the series will feature speakers and panelists addressing how and why debates about technology and sustainability are critically important for Africa, while tackling the phenomenon of slow, continuous, and often invisible harm produced by industrial pollution and other large-scale contamination across Africa. Speakers will also build awareness around local communities highlighting and naming the ways they have been impacted by environmental harm.
Spring Quarter Events
6/4 Disrupting Big Tech: Independent, Community-Rooted AI Research focused on Africa & the African diaspora
In this talk, Timnit Gebru will discuss why she founded The Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) and what she hopes this interdisciplinary, community-based, global network of AI researchers can accomplish. DAIR was launched in December 2021 by Timnit Gebru as a space for independent, community-rooted AI research, free from Big Tech’s pervasive influence. Gebru believes that the harms embedded in AI technology are preventable and that when its production and deployment include diverse perspectives and deliberate processes, it can be put to work for people, rather than against them. With DAIR, Gebru aims to create an environment that is independent from the structures and systems that incentivize profit over ethics and individual well-being.
5/18 When and Why Do Governments in Africa and Elsewhere Routinely Shut Down the Internet on their Citizens?
In recent years, there has been a trend of African governments blocking internet access as a means of censorship. According to reports number of these incidences have been steadily increasing since 2017 and countries including Benin, Gabon, Eritrea, Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, and Zimbabwe have experienced state-enforced internet shutdowns since 2016. In her ongoing research, Professor Dendere explores how social media, internet access and tech are wielded by governments to limit civil freedoms for citizens and what the implications are for African politics and society.
Winter Quarter Events
2/24 Engineering the Daily Meal: Women, Food, and Techno-Politics in Rural Mali
In this discussion Laura Ann Twagira covers subjects in her book, Embodied Engineering: Gendered Labor, Food Security, and Taste in Twentieth-Century Mali (Ohio University Press, 2021). In it she foregrounds African women’s ingenuity and labor by focusing on how women in rural Mali have used technology to ensure food security through the colonial period, several environmental crises, and post-colonial rule. Twagira also co-edited the special issue “Africanizing Technology” for the journal Technology and Culture, which appeared in 2020. She was also a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and her work has received recognition from the Society for the History of Technology, the International Committee for the History of Technology, and the American Historical Association.
Fall Quarter Events
11/17 Technologies of the New Apartheid
Through a discussion of his newly published book The New Apartheid, Dr. Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, explores the edifice of systemic racial oppression - the new apartheid - that continues to thrive, despite or even because of the democratic system. This new apartheid is a privatized, decentralized, self-replicating vestige of the apartheid state. For the people of South Africa, it means poverty or paradise, separated by an inch of glass and a line of code. Mpofu-Walsh names the South African malaise by tracing its impact on the country's use of space, law, wealth, technology and punishment. RSVP here to attend.
12/01 The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe
This talk will focus on the the social politics of inequality in Africa, through an examination of disease, public health, violence, and social suffering as organizing frameworks for both historical and contemporary case studies. Through a discussion of his recently published book, Professor Chigudu will discuss the political life of the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, tracing the historical origins of the outbreak, examining the social pattern of its unfolding and impact, analyzing the institutional and communal responses to the disease, and marking the effects of its aftermath. Professor Chigudu reveals how this epidemic of a preventable disease had profound implications for political institutions and citizenship in Zimbabwe. RSVP here to attend.
This series is cosponsored by the Program in Science Technology and society, Department of Anthropology, Stanford Earth, the Program in History and Philosophy of Science, the Digital Civil Society Lab, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Stanford Global Studies and the Ethics in Society Center
In recent years, there has been a trend of African governments blocking internet access as a means of censorship.
Laura Ann Twagira is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Wesleyan University, additionally holding appointments in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Science and Society…
This talk will focus on the social politics of inequality in Africa, through an examination of disease, public health, violence, and social suffering as organizing frameworks for both historical…
Through a discussion of his newly published book The New Apartheid, Dr.