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The Rationalization of Space and Time: Dodoma and Socialist Modernity

Abstract

The categories of space and time are crucial variables in the constitution of what many scholars deem as modernity. However, due to the almost exclusive interpretation of space and time as components of a modernity coupled with global capitalism (Harvey, Jameson), discussions of a socialist space and time as a construction of an alternate modernity during the 60s and 70s—in particular across the Third World—have been neglected. Julius Nyerere’s project of collectivation, or ujamaa, in Tanzania during this period is a prime example of an attempt to develop the nation state outside of the capitalist format. While it would be interesting to explore the connections Nyerere had with other socialist Third World countries like China within the international context and their attempts at nation building, this paper will focus on an analysis of the Tanzanian government’s decision in 1973 to move the capital of the country from the Eastern port city of Dar es Salaam, to the more centrally located Dodoma. The questions of primary importance are: How did moving the Tanzanian capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma in 1973 embody Nyerere’s vision of socialist African development? Or more specifically, how did the socialist urban planning of Dodoma fit into the greater project of ujamaa and rural development? And finally, how was the planned construction of a new urban capital an attempt at a definition of socialist space and time?

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