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Malmö University: GPS Seminar: The practice and politics of DIY urbanism in African cities
20 september, 2017 kl. 13:00 – 15:00
Steve Marr (Senior lecturer, GPS) and Patience Mususa (Senior researcher, Nordic Africa Institute)
Recent conceptualizations of African urbanism(s), exemplified by the work of A.M. Simone and Filip de Boeck, consider African cities and citizens on their own terms, rather than measuring how well they conform to a set of universal urban aesthetic or behavioral standards. Subsequent to this shift, one emergent conceptual truism is that the unpredictable, predatory, and/or unequal distribution of infrastructure(s) often found in African cities prompts residents to experiment or improvise their daily encounters with both urban environments and each other. Although the emphasis on experimentations in and with the informal or ”invisible” city offer evocative depictions of contemporary urban life, they remain ambiguous in both application and definition.
To begin to address these issues the authors will present on the following topics: first, Marr explores the political possibilities of DIY urbanism by offering some reflections on the connections between democratic politics, civil society, public space, and urban marginality in contemporary African cities. Mususa’s presentation is grounded in the experience of urban Zambia and addresses the kind of DIY urbanisms that emerge between the interaction of top-down driven planning and settlement processes catalysed by mining activity in Africa’s Copperbelt. The papers are part of a larger project, whose next step is a STINT funded workshop held at the University of Abuja in December 2017.