Road Crashes Involving Hiace Vans in Cape Verde

  • Gerard Horta Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona


Based on ethnographic research carried out on the islands of Santiago and São Vicente in the fall months of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015, this article analyzes the social universe of interurban collective transport in Cape Verde. Its focus is the Toyota Hiace van, employed on certain islands of the archipelago since the mid-1980s, and it approaches the multi-causality of road crashes involving these vehicles through participatory observation made while inside them, in addition to conversations and interviews with passengers, former passengers, driver-bosses and salaried van drivers, passengers, police officers and state transport employees, senior officials and so on. Thus, it studies the antagonistic experiences brought on by the use of space by motor vehicle drivers, their passengers and pedestrians themselves. The different explanations for the causes of road crashes fit into the framework of urban transformation processes at work on the island, mobility and social dimensions of all kinds: van drivers’ working conditions; pavement condition, road signage and lighting; the planning of van operation by the public administration; the driving supervision by police officers on the roads (or lack thereof), the van’s technical conditions; the symbolic status of drivers; road culture and motorized driving culture in Cape Verde, etc. In short, all these factors interrelate through the daily experience of van travel by Cape Verdeans.

Author Biography

Gerard Horta, Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona

holds a PhD in Social Anthropology (2003, University of Barcelona) and teaches from 2004 in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona. He has worked in Anthropology of Religion and Urban Anthropology, and is a founding member of the research group on Exclusion and Social Control at the UB. He has developed more than a dozen individual and collective researches focused specially on Anthropology of Religion, Urban Anthropology and Social Exclusion. He has published by the sixty of books, chapters of book and articles in Anthropology, Sociology and History reviews –among other books, he has published De la mística a les barricades [XXII Carles Rahola First Prize] (2001); Cos i revolució. L’espiritisme català o les paradoxes de la modernitat (2004); L’espai clos. Fòrum 2004: notes d’una travessia pel no-res (2004), Rambla del Raval de Barcelona (2010) or Hiace. Antropología de las carreteras en la isla de Santiago (Cabo Verde) (2014, with Daniel Malet)–. You can see a selection of their publications on the link Since 2009 until today he has carried out field work in Cape Verde on the relationship between interurban collective transportation, urban planning, mobility and road crashes.

How to Cite
HORTA, Gerard. Road Crashes Involving Hiace Vans in Cape Verde. Modern Africa: Politics, History and Society, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 1, p. 83-107, june 2017. ISSN 2570-7558. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 04 dec. 2020.