Producing Lombe Junction: Oil Revenues, Roads and Patterns of Reconstruction in Post-War Rural Angola

Colloquium | September 19 | 12:30-2 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Aharon de Grassi, Research Associate, Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

 Center for African Studies

400 kilometers inland from Angola's capital Luanda, Lombe junction re-emerged as part of a reported $26 billion in road reconstruction involving oil-for-infrastructure loans and contracts with Brazilian, Chinese, Portuguese and Angolan firms. The junction is formed through a secondary administrative rural road of the sort that, in contrast, have been relatively neglected despite their importance to cassava farmers producing the region’s staple food. Drawing on long-term historical and ethnographic research, this presentation eschews unsituated linear narratives of travel and frontier expansion, and instead emphasizes Lombe’s geography of relations. Lombe is simultaneously a commercial transport platform in a sub-continental logistics hub, and zone formed recursively through slave trade, settler colonialism and counter-insurgency war. Practical efforts to address the “unevenness” and liberatory potentials of infrastructure require understanding the actual broader patterns of how people construct and use infrastructure, as well as how those patterns entail relations both between different kinds of infrastructure and between infrastructure and multiple other sectors.

Aharon de Grassi is an inter-disciplinary geographer working on the political economy of rural development in Africa. His interests are in agrarian studies, political ecology, and development studies. His current book project Provisional Reconstructions focuses on post-war rural development and reconstruction in Angola, which rivals Nigeria as the largest producer of oil in Africa. He has also conducted research on and fieldwork in various other countries during his twenty years of experience with a range of institutions.

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 asc@berkeley.edu, 510-642-8338