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Democracy's InfrastructureTechno-Politics and Protest after Apartheid$
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Antina von Schnitzler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691170770

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691170770.001.0001

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Measuring Life

Measuring Life

Living Prepaid and the Politics of Numbers after Apartheid

(p.132) Chapter 5 Measuring Life
Democracy's Infrastructure

Antina von Schnitzler

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the ways in which numbers and measurement became central both to the planning and implementation of Operation Gcin'amanzi and to its opposition. In particular, it examines the multiple forms of intervention attending the corporatization of water provision and the semiotic-material work of making water calculable. It also discusses the “countermeasures” produced by activists from Phiri, as they took up numerical practices to make claims on the state, along with the larger techno-political terrain within which such numerical activism takes shape. Finally, it considers how the prepaid meter became part of a larger set of neoliberal reforms at the heart of which was the introduction of new epistemologies and targets for intervention and reform.

Keywords:   numbers, measurement, Operation Gcin'amanzi, corporatization, water provision, Phiri, techno-political terrain, activism, prepaid meter, neoliberal reforms

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