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Garth Myers

Abstract

This paper works to address what I consider the enduring ‘Africa problem’ in global urban theory. I engage and critique selected relevant urban thought from the Globalization and World Cities research group, from Henri Lefebvre and from the new wave of urban theorisation inspired by Lefebvre’s (1970) idea of ‘complete, planetary urbanisation’. I argue that urbanisation in Africa, largely absent from Lefebvre’s works, presents new twists that are better understood from outside a Eurocentric framework. I propose the possibilities of urban comparativism built from theories and conceptualisations that emerge from the global South and that can be utilised to compare non-Western cities’ urbanisation processes. I use case studies from Dakar and Zanzibar to examine the production of what Chinese urbanists detail as a ‘village’ in the city, on the edge of the city, and in the suburbs over the last half-century and the complexities and comparability of urbanisation processes in these settings. I end with reflections on the implications of these cases for any claims for universalising the twenty-first century’s processes of urbanisation and urbanism across the planet. My main finding for urban policy and planning practice is the documentation of the relevance and value of South–South comparisons of urbanisation processes for development.

Series:

Florian Stoll

Abstract

How is it possible to study the ‘cityness’ of cities, their particular character and the locally specific actions of their residents? One crucial aspect that distinguishes cities from one another is how social phenomena are embedded in a particular city’s built environment, its economy, and particular horizons of meanings.

To analyse a significant example of this embeddedness, this chapter examines Kenya’s Nairobi through the lens of social milieus in the middle-income stratum, the so-called ‘middle classes’.1 Moreover, the milieu concept enables the identification of social groups that share sociocultural features such as specific ways of life, professional and leisure activities, and forms of consumption and investment. The text studies which local aspects are significant for milieus in Nairobi in comparison to Mombasa and other Kenyan cities. And using two case studies, the Christian Religious Milieu and the milieu of the Young Professionals, it illustrates how the particular city modifies these milieus.

Such an approach not only allows for a better understanding of the ‘middle classes’ in African cities as comprised of different identifiable milieus, it also yields a method for analysing the local particularities of a city, whether in Africa or other parts of the world. The chapter is significant for policy and practice because it introduces with the concept of social milieus a nuanced alternative to (middle) class approaches that distinguishes lifestyles, aims in life and forms of consumption. Also, the chapter discusses, using the example of Nairobi, how milieus are bound to specific structures of a city and might offer—from the perspective of basic research—suggestions for practical use.

Series:

Lalli Metsola

Abstract

On the basis of a case study of informal residents’ claims over land, housing and basic amenities in Windhoek, Namibia, this chapter seeks to contribute to debates on the broad sociopolitical implications of claim-making dynamics between residents and public authorities. In contrast with antagonistic readings of such situations that focus on resistance, autonomy and rights, the chapter finds that both residents’ strategies and policies outline incremental paths of betterment and intersect in multiple ways. It ponders whether and how such incrementality produces institutionalised forms of relations between citizens and authorities, and calls attention to the principle of mutual dependencies as a key aspect in them.

Series:

Karen Büscher

Abstract

This chapter addresses rural–urban transformations in the Kivu provinces, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and more particularly focuses on the complex relationship between dynamics of violent conflict and the emergence of urban mining ‘boomtowns’. Mining towns offer fascinating sites from which to investigate the socio-economic and spatial effects of a protracted history of violence, displacement and militarisation. They are the spatial outcomes of dynamics of the transformative power of violent conflict. Moreover, this chapter demonstrates how they also offer interesting spatial as well as analytical starting points from which to study the political geographies of war dynamics in Eastern DRC. It will be argued that the reason why these mining towns evolve into strategic ‘resources’ in violent struggles for power and control is to be found in their urban character as much as in the presence of natural resources. As such, this chapter analyses the process of mining urbanisation in the Kivu provinces as part of (armed) elites’ spatial politics of power and control. As demographic concentrations and economic nodes, mining towns represent important political, economic and social resources for ‘big men’, armed groups and the Congolese state in their broader political struggles for power, legitimacy and authority. In a context of fragmented and multi-scalar governance, the urbanisation process of these towns is the outcome of a complex interaction and contestation of different forms of agency. Based on three ethnographic cases of mining towns that emerged from diverse dynamics of artisanal mining activities and forced displacement, this chapter contributes to broader academic and policy debates on the political nature of mining urbanisation in a context of conflict and fragmented governance.

Why is Co-management of Parks Not Working in Johannesburg?

The Difficult Reframing of State Mandate and Practices in the Post-Apartheid Era

Series:

Claire Bénit-Gbaffou

Abstract

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) has affirmed its strong redistributive objective in post-apartheid Johannesburg, with the rapid development of new urban parks in former black townships. However, its operational budgets have remained limited in the face of the many pressing housing and infrastructural needs. Many park users, especially in formerly white (and still middle-class) suburbs, have resorted to forms of neighbourhood or community management to compensate for JCPZ’s absence. JCPZ is attempting to rebuild its mandate with regards to these public spaces, developing various policy instruments in response to the involvement of park users in the management of urban parks, but also to formalise that involvement. This chapter traces the genealogy of these policy instruments in the making, caught between multiple logics where neo-liberal pressures and models, regular engagements with park users marked by contested legitimacies and racial tensions, and the broader municipal redistributive agenda shape the way in which the post-apartheid state redefines its mandate. The chapter argues that the specific social and racial configurations in which these partnerships are framed on the ground are used by municipal officials to resist transforming their own practices towards more participatory and democratic processes of co-production of parks. The chapter reflects on shifting state mandates in urban governance in contemporary cities of the South and analyses policy instruments crafted for the complex task of formalising and regulating state–society co-production of urban services in the field of park management.

Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta and Aprameya Rao

Drawing inspiration from two theoretical framings: a sociocultural perspective on languaging and writings on a decolonial-turn, the study presented in this paper center-stages issues related to the need to engage analytically with, (i) social actions of political parties, citizens, including netizens in Web 2.0 settings, and (ii) alternative epistemologies where issues from the global-South are privileged. A central concern of decolonial linguistics enables asking new questions that destabilize established Eurocentric models of language. Thus, peripherally framed sociocultural premises contribute to critical social-humanistic perspectives that allow for (potentially) unpacking northern hegemonies and contributing to global-North challenges. Building upon an analytical design, this paper presents cross-disciplinary analysis of languaging in contemporary political mediascapes of the nation-states of India and Sweden. Bringing to bear that language does not only mirror reality, but is also a constitutive culturaltool, the study aims to highlight the contrastive ways in which the dominating political parties and citizens engage with languaging (i.e. the deployment of semiotic resources across language-varieties, modalities, including imagery). The study unpacks similarities and differences in salient issues related to the nature of social media and language and identity-positions in political discourse, highlighting dimensions of the participants voices. Thus, patterns that emerge from the contrastive analysis of political discourses, including the features of social media are highlighted and discussed. Data includes social media pages of two political parties from both the nation-states across a 6-week period at the end of 2017.