238pp., paperback, Princeton, 2016
Antina von Schnitzler focuses on conflicts surrounding a project to install prepaid water meters in Soweto to trace how infrastructure, payment, and technical procedures become sites of struggle over South Africa's political transformation.
"'Democracy's Infrastructure' takes an incisive, illuminating look at the technopolitics of water in South Africa. Through close and careful observation, this book reveals how specific technological mechanisms enable and constrain government projects, and how forms of measurement and pricing shape new, market-oriented subjects. This is a major contribution, one that joins the study of social movements and political resistance to the new anthropology of infrastructure in an entirely convincing way." James Ferguson, author of "Give a Man a Fish, reflections on the new politics of distribution"
"A theoretically savvy account of how the distribution of prepaid technologies in apartheid South Africa dovetailed with the emergence of new forms of neoliberal governance, 'Democracy's Infrastructure' shows how technology continues to animate life there today. One of the most innovative postapartheid studies in recent years, this is required reading for those interested in understanding the complexities of the South African democratic transition." Steven Robins, University of Stellenbosch
Anthropologist Antina von Schnitzler is Assistant Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School.