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Anticipatory Infrastructural Practices: The coming of electricity in rural Kenya

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This paper explores how the extension of the national electricity grid in a village in rural Kenya affects households’ energy using practices. Based on ethnographic research, this paper examines how people act while anticipating electricity as well as what energy practices emerge as part of life with a partial presence of electricity infrastructure.

Drawing on anthropological infrastructure studies and STS, the paper suggests members of a community participate in the formation of an electricity infrastructure through their preparatory practices. The making of electricity infrastructures through anticipatory actions has not yet been subject to research, but as the article argues, it is precisely by acquiring competences like stacking of resources or adjusting to breakdowns and volatile electricity prices that energy infrastructures are composed. The paper further argues that certain objects of anticipation allow for making preparations in relation to uncertain electric and political futures.

By leveraging the notion of anticipatory infrastructural practices the main contribution of this article is to enrich the understanding of participatory politics to also encompass mundane actions related to energy distribution and use. This is relevant in anticipation of a future where a dramatically higher number of people will become grid connected.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Volume44
Pages (from-to)130-137
ISSN2214-6296
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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