Agoblogoshie Makerspace Platform

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Ron Eglash and Ellen Foster:

"Similarly, the QAMP (Agoblogoshie Makerspace Platform) group brings many knowledges, practices and local issues into play for their project. They are helping to foster more sustainable (both economically and environmentally) scraping techniques within Agbogbloshie, which is located in downtown Accra and is the largest e-waste site in West Africa, possibly in the whole African continent. They focus heavily on the bricolage motif, using the materials at hand to create open structures and technologies for processing materials. The QAMP group is creating a platform or vehicle for something we have termed generative waste.

Generative Waste plays off the classic conception of generative justice by considering the socially viable possibilities coming out of waste regimes. Tying into the Fixers’ Collective push against planned obsolescence, this conceptual and methodological framing works with what one might consider marginal material for the possibilities of new networks and new systems of use. It also invokes Donna Haraway’s work in complicating the nature/culture/machine divide and Stacy Alaimo’s ‘transcorporeality,’ by recognizing that in the end, we become waste and waste becomes us as we move through and interact with it on a daily level (Haraway 1991; Alaimo 2010). In this vein, QAMP is working to generate further cultures, economies and possibilities for education through remediation practices of a hazardous site - cycling through waste for positive feedback in a space that is based upon the negative feedback of trying to mediate, lessen and repair waste that has been thrust upon it. While instigating new practices, they are working with scraping communities that have been working at Agbogbloshie for 10-20 years, planning a future with instead of against their needs. Already, their working group has helped to explore new ways to extract copper from cables and wiring, as well as safe forms of plastics processing on site (QAMP).

This is not to romanticize the e-waste site at Agbobloshie. Clearly, greater systemic mechanisms must change in order to fully ameliorate the situation within its geographic bounds and beyond. The environmental hazards are many and very dire, something which the QAMP group hopes to bring attention to and map (Caravanos et al., 2011; Goutier 2014). Yet, by tapping into maker/hacker and community-driven knowledge-sharing practices, the Co-PIs of the QAMP initiative (DK Osseo-Asare and Dr. Yasmine Abbas) are working in conjunction with local students and scrapers to reform the landscape and its viability as a more safe and fulfilling work-site.

They also hope to bring attention to practices such as those at the Agbogbloshie site and Suame Magazine that have always already been in the realm of making, hacking and repair before the so-called ‘Maker movement’ was even established. DK Osseo-Asare asserts that it is all well and good that other hacker/maker groups are interested in bringing outside technologies such as MakerBots and Arduinos into the mix of possibilities, but that they also need to recognize the long-standing innovative fixing and making traditions already established in Ghana. For them, the idea that a Maker movement is coming from outside of Ghana, and is aiming to transform its landscape, is highly problematic. “The problem is it continues to reinforce the mentality...that all of the amazing things need to be brought in [from outside of Africa]. There is already [a] makerspace in Ghana [...] let’s see them as makerspaces and bring them into the discourse and not just focus on the negative side but try to use the positive side to change the negative side” (Interview with DK Osseo-Asare).

In QAMP’s current work, they have demonstrated the social and cultural aspects of Agbogbloshie, and are invested in helping local scrapers realize desires to create more business and stability, often through local processing and fabrication techniques. While still in its inception stage, they have started using scrap and waste material from Agbogbloshie itself to create makerspace hubs for on-site educational and fabrication practices. Considering long-standing fabrication groups such as a blacksmith and pot-fabrication collective within Agbogbloshie, QAMP has a striking opportunity to further facilitate the creation of more locally-formed, locally-contingent and locally-led maker groups. Toward this end, they are interested in fostering the scrapers’ specific, “situated knowledges” of materials on-hand." ([1])