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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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Getting Ahead When We’re Behind: Time, Potential, and Value in Urban Tanzania

Getting Ahead When We’re Behind: Time, Potential, and Value in Urban Tanzania

(p.199) Fourteen Getting Ahead When We’re Behind: Time, Potential, and Value in Urban Tanzania
African Futures

Brad Weiss

University of Chicago Press

This chapter is an attempt to engage critically with "development from below," and to think critically about the vernacular practices and prose in which socio-economic transformation is understood in urban East Africa. More specifically, I examine the ways in which principals of temporal organization are moralized in the everyday claims of many men and women in the city of Arusha, people who are quite familiar with both the rhetoric and programming of international development. Ideas like "progress," and "moving forward" as well as "being behind" and "returning back" which are entirely commonplace in Arusha, appear to conjoin claims about historical transition and qualitative transformation in ways which resonate with the ideological advocates of liberal/neoliberal development. They do so, however, from a situation - and I would suggest, within a cosmological purview - in which social practice shapes and is shaped by very different understandings of time, value, and sociality. My aim in this paper is to elucidate these understandings - especially as they are embodied in cosmological practices intended to promote "development," and to examine both their articulation and disjuncture with prevailing NGO-driven models of the same.

Keywords:   Tanzania, development, progress, futurity, temporality

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