Chukudu Politics: The Relevance of Infrastructural Absences for Governmental Power and State Failure in the Post-Colonial world

  • Peer SchoutenEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


This chapter explores an analytical gap emerging at the intersection of political science and science and technology studies when their gaze is turned towards postcolonial Africa. Where political science has been bad at dealing with the importance of technological infrastructures for the constitution of governmental power, science and technology studies have hitherto been less attentive to situations in which such ‘infrastructures of rule’ are absent. This chapter aims at tentatively exploring this gap by pointing to the relevance of technological infrastructures in postcolonial Sub-Saharan Africa. It does so both through a cursory overview of literatures that might help articulate this problematique and by discussing the role of absences in technological infrastructures—such as roads, statistical tools, and government offices—in the historical unfolding of state formation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The example of the chukudu—an improvised wooden transport utility that allows Congolese to go about despite decrepit infrastructures—is used to unpack the significance for infrastructural absences for social processes. Generalizing beyond the example of the chukudu, this chapter offers novel insights in the importance of technological asymmetries in global power-relations in postcolonial contexts.


Infrastructure Postcolonial state formation State failure Governmental power Underdevelopment Sub-Sahara Africa 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Global StudiesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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