The Zimbabwe Bush Pump. Mechanics of a Fluid Technology.

A.M. Mol, Marianne de Laet

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In this paper we investigate the intricacies of an admirable water pumping device - the Zimbabwe Bush Pump `B' type - so as to find out what makes it an `appropriate technology'. This turns out to be what we call the `fluidity' of the pump (of its boundaries, or of its working order, and of its maker). We find that in travelling to intractable places, an object that isn't too rigorously bounded, that doesn't impose itself but tries to serve, that is adaptable, flexible and responsive - in short, a fluid object - may well prove to be stronger than one which is firm. By analyzing the success and failure of this device, its agency and the way in which it shapes new configurations in the Zimbabwean socio-technical landscape, we partake in the current move in science and technology studies to transform what it means to be an actor. And by mobilizing the term love for articulating our relation to the Bush Pump, we try to contribute to shaping novel ways of `doing' normativity.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)225-263
Number of pages39
JournalSocial studies of science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • IR-33954
  • METIS-148646

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