This panel invites papers from a historicizing perspective that explore continuities and changes in transport and travel in Africa, with a focus not so much on the connections, but on the intended and unintended disruptions of social, cultural, economic, and political relations and structures.
This panel seeks to explore continuities and changes in modes of transport and travel in Africa, with a focus not so much on the connections, but particularly on the intended and unintended disruptions of social, cultural, economic, and political relations and structures. The development of transport and its infrastructure is often imagined as a history of growth, increasing connectivity, and globalisation. However, this development has not only been uneven, it has also involved disconnections and disruptions alongside connections and flows. Travel and transport alter patterns of human power and hierarchy, enabling to either strengthen or weaken, enhance or disrupt them. Over time, these patterns have changed, in part through the interactions between technological developments, the organisation of transport and its infrastructure, and other material and immaterial institutions within and between different societies. Changes in means of transport and the ways people, goods and ideas travel, can be either complementary (or parallel) to existing connections, strengthening established relations and structures, but they can also disrupt them; leaving places previously connected disjointed from networks of social and economic interactivity, or rupturing cultural, economic and social structures depending on older forms of spatial (im)mobility. We invite papers across the disciplines that engage from a historicizing perspective the connections and disruptions transport and travel bring about, involving all forms of transport and travel across time in, to, and from Africa.