Tectonic agency in Africa : reinvigorating collective making through repair

Mike Louw, Daniel Elkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the African concepts of ubuntu and ukama in relation to sympoiēsis, or collective making. Traditional practices like litema and the re-claying of the Great Mosque of Djenné demonstrate the complex relatedness between people, and between people and the environment, and highlight the tectonic tensions between the social and the material. An overview of the Hikma
Religious and Secular Complex in Niger shows how some of these tensions can be addressed through socio-environmentally conscious material selection and how this can enable collective modes of making. It is argued that tectonic agency and the strengthening of tectonic networks can contribute towards the reinvigoration of collective making through repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages19
JournalSouth African Journal of Art History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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