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Durham e-Theses
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Reconfiguring electricity infrastructures in Accra and Cape Town:
Understanding the political ecologies of networked urbanism

SILVER, JONATHAN,DAVID (2013) Reconfiguring electricity infrastructures in Accra and Cape Town:
Understanding the political ecologies of networked urbanism.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the relationships between emerging intersections of climate and energy agendas in cities and how these responses are being materialised across networked systems through processes of network reconfiguration. The study is focused on how these dynamics are shaping socio-environmental conditions across the energy infrastructures of low income, networked neighbourhoods in Accra and Cape Town and the geometries of power relationships between different urban actors in these dynamics. It examines current approaches to infrastructure studies and how they can be utilised to reveal the political nature of networked systems. The thesis argues that such issues can be approached through a African situated urban political ecology that frames the city through the notion of cyborg urbanisation to reveal the metabolic processes that mediate networked urbanism, network reconfiguration across multi-scalar geographies and multiple social relations. A series of comparative sites in low income, networked communities across Accra and Cape Town are selected alongside research with a wide range of urban actors across both cities. The thesis draws on a range of data collected during fieldwork in both cities generated through a range of methods including community workshops, interviewing and household surveys. The methodology aims to generate a range of data encompassing both political economic and the everyday dynamics mediating urban energy networks. The thesis finds that these networked systems are shaped by historical processes of urbanisation that produce inequalities through a splintered urbanism, with urban dwellers experiencing these unequal geographies through the metabolisms of capital, climate and crisis. Examining a series of network reconfigurations the thesis argues that multiple urban actors are involved in these processes, shaped by a series of competing logics, rationalities and imperatives and revealing the contested and political nature of urban infrastructure. As cities become increasingly important sites in response to climate change and energy imperatives the question of who has the power to reconfigure becomes vital to addressing questions of future urban uncertainties. The thesis suggest these contestations over the power to reconfigure take place across a series of different terrains incorporating the everyday geographies of the urban energy network, global metabolic processes and policymaking domains.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:African urbanism, networks, infrastructure, urban, political ecology, cities, technology, politics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Jul 2013 14:52

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