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Provincialising waste: the transformation of ambulance car 7/83-2 to tro-tro Dr.JESUS

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number4
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)639-654
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper is concerned with the material and social transformation of a German ambulance car into a Ghanaian minibus—called tro-tros in Ghana. We track the journey of a Mercedes Benz 310 from Winnenden in Germany to Kumasi in Ghana and examine the transformation of Rettungswagen 7/83-2 to tro-tro Dr.JESUS. Tracing the car’s geobiography enables us to explore a specific material relation between Europe and West Africa. Considering debates on technology transfer and transformation, we argue for a nuanced understanding of ‘fluid technologies’ that includes opportunities but also emphasises the dangers implicated in the transfer and transformation of objects. Furthermore, by locating the reused bus within international trade in discarded objects, we introduce the notion of ‘provincialising waste’ to underline changing uses and values of objects. In this paper we suggest that careful attention needs to be paid to the ambivalent geobiographies of secondhand objects.