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Whaleboats in the Forest: Subaltern Technologies of Transportation on Congo’s Inland Waterways

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 CONGO_WHALEBOATS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the CONGO_WHALEBOATS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "CONGO_WHALEBOATS" about.

mfimi    kinshasa    never    observation    whaleboats    goods    sheets    engines    fr    diesel    ne    translation    archaeology    qualitative    hosted    africa    museums    boat    trees    places    theoretical    materials    anthropologists    rooted    transnational    responsible    ethno    articles    crafted    older    trace    vital    fa    ices    social    combines    building    fossil    powered    economies    disseminated    eacute    chang    2020    craftsmanship    baleini    cutting    propulsion    renewable    security    traditions    complexities    congo    lives    lake    socio    publication    anthropocene    insights    scientific    waterways    realm    recycling    space    african    subaltern    skills    combine    despite    circular    technologies    ratoire    centres    food    livelihoods    material    time    exhibition    energies    speaks    ijwi    nioki    horizon    agriculture    radio    millions    egrave    below    cooperation    international    maintenance    kisangani    cha    res    south    stroke    cultural    chinese    repairing    corrugated    aluminium    tar    ethnographic    fuelled    wooden    ontologies    sts    locally    basin    50    op    overlooked    internal    river    assemblages    transportation    crucially    nutrition    participant    people    accompanying    spiritual    icirc    monograph    kivu    local    combustion    interviews    thinking   

Project "CONGO_WHALEBOATS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: OUDE MARKT 13
city: LEUVEN
postcode: 3000

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Belgium [BE]
 Total cost 178˙320 €
 EC max contribution 178˙320 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2018
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-RI
 Starting year 2020
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2020-09-01   to  2022-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Congo’s wooden baleinières (Fr. whaleboats) are locally developed and crafted socio-technical assemblages that account for up to 50% of all transportation of goods and people on the waterways of the Congo Basin. Despite the vital role of these subaltern technologies of transportation for the livelihoods of millions, the socio-technical complexities responsible for their success have never been studied. Rooted in older boat building traditions from Ijwi (lake Kivu) and Nioki (on the Mfimi River), and powered by fossil-fuelled Chinese two-stroke Diesel engines, baleinières combine local traditions of craftsmanship with transnational South-South technology translation “from below”. The research aims 1. to trace the baleinières’ chaîne opératoire of materials and skills in time and space, from the cutting of trees and the recycling of materials (tar, corrugated aluminium sheets, etc.), to the repairing and maintenance of the Chang Fa Diesel propulsion system; 2. to investigate the material and spiritual lives and ontologies of fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines (ICEs) in the realm of African river transportation, which have been crucially overlooked by anthropologists so far. The research combines the qualitative method of ethnographic field work (participant observation, interviews) with the theoretical insights of the social study of technology/STS, ethno-archaeology and recent thinking about the Anthropocene. It speaks directly to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme’s international cooperation initiative for Africa (“food, nutrition security and agriculture, renewable energies”) and the Programme’s interest in “circular economies”. Its results will be disseminated in scientific articles, radio features, and an exhibition to be hosted by museums and cultural centres in Kisangani, Kinshasa and different places in Europe, and by an accompanying publication of a monograph.

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The information about "CONGO_WHALEBOATS" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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