What Do Science, Technology And Innovation Mean from Africa?
In this chapter, I propose to explore the social contours of technological creativity through the rubric of “smartness”, a concept intimately tied to innovation. What does it mean to be “smart” in Kinshasa? Who is smart? And who is not? How does mastery over entering technologies relate to local repertoires of authority, power, and prestige? I thus attempt to unsettle the ethnocentric assumptions of “being smart in the city”. By focusing on practices on Kinshasa’s streets, in households, markets, and hotels, I show how Kinois engage with technologies, how they combine various registers of expertise and creativity, and how these in turn combine to produce variegated ways of “being smart in the city”. The chapter is a methodological and epistemological experiment in which I call for attention for semantic, social, and technological complexity, irreducible to one single form or meaning. The (scientific) challenge is to remain attentive to the polysemy of technology, innovation, and creativity, as well as the contiguity of meanings, practices, and experts.