Accepted paper:

Odysseus trucks: Temporalities of progress and the politics of acceleration and deceleration among Tanzania's truck drivers


Elisabetta Campagnola (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

"Odysseus trucks" is a conceptual metaphor to introduce the temporalities of progress in the trucking industry. I will describe these temporalities in relation to the ethnographic data gathered among Tanzania's trucks drivers to introduce the politics of acceleration and deceleration.

Paper long abstract:

Transport infrastructures and logistics are national and international vectors of capitalist progress and accumulation. The temporalities of what I call "Odysseus trucks" are made of necessary and calculated routes and timings. Further, the future appears continuously delayed (Guyer 2007) in the circularity of constant departures and arrivals. Presenting the ethnographic experiences of the workers in the trucking industry of Tanzania, I argue that these workers engage in a necessary quest towards progress and its temporalities, but with nuances that can be conceptualized as the politics of acceleration and deceleration. To speculate on these nuances, rather than reading the temporalities of stoppage and movement as a lingering between waiting and doing, between unemployment and work (Ralph 2008), I propose to focus on a particular kind of woven time (Millar 2015) and its politics, a time that emerges from a context of constant movement and that is essentially made solely of accelerations and decelerations.

panel Anth21
Making a living on & off the road - trucking and the politics of movement and stoppage in Africa