Assembling Bus Rapid Transit in the Global South

Malve’s PhD project explored the mobile ethnography of Dar es Salaam, where consultants and politicians have planned and implemented a bus rapid transit (BRT) system for two decades. She analysed the dual processes of assembling BRT in the Tanzanian metropolis and establishing BRT as a policy model of and for the Global South.

Translating Global Models, Materialising Infrastructure Politics
The research elucidated how policy models are constructed and circulated around the globe and depicted the processes by which they are translated between, and materialise within, specific contexts. It presented the case of BRT to demonstrate how technocrats shape these processes through persuasive work aimed at disseminating and stabilising this transport model, and how local actors influence its adaptation in Dar es Salaam. Malve adopted a ‘double mobility’ approach to show how this ethnography follows travelling consultants, circulating policies and moving buses to explore the fluidity of the BRT model. Linking key debates in policy mobility studies and Science and Technology Studies, enriched with postcolonial perspectives and geographies of transport and infrastructure, this research offers new insights into the technopolitics of planning and implementing infrastructure systems.

Project-related publications:

Jacobsen, M. (2022) Mediating infrastructural discipline: Established practices and changing structures of Dar es Salaam's transport sector. Urban Forum (peer reviewed) 

Jacobsen, M. (2022) Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit: why it’s been a long, bumpy ride, The Conversation. Academic rigour, journalistic flair. Published 12 May 2022.


Jacobsen, M. (2021) Co-producing urban transport systems: adapting a global model in Dar es Salaam, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 17:1, 47-61.  (peer reviewed)  

Jacobsen, M. (2020) Assembling Bus Rapid Transit in the Global South: Translating global models, materialising infrastructure politics. London: Routledge. 


Jacobsen, M. (2017) Temporalities of Assembling Transport Systems. Presences and Absences in an Intermittent Process. in: Mewes, J. S. & Sørensen, E. (eds.): Ethnographies of Objects in Science and Technology Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum, 52-64.

Jacobsen, M. (2015) Schnellbusse auf der Überholspur. Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit als Wegbereiter nachhaltiger urbaner Mobilität?, RaumPlanung (182/6-2015) & TRIALOG (120/121-2/2015), 66-73.  (peer reviewed) 

Malve Jacobsen

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