The Arts of Citizenship in African Cities: Infrastructures and Spaces of Belonging (Africa Connects)

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Building upon a growing literature that resists the pathologizing effects of developmentalist and comparative framings, this fascinating collection of case studies pushes the frontiers of scholarship on African urbanism through detailed and nuanced ethnographic analyses of life in a diverse set of cities across the continent. These contributions explore a range of innovative institutions, discourses, and material practices through which claims to citizenship are enacted and contested by a diverse array of actors. They treat cities as sites of experimentation, privileging the ordinary, daily, under-the-radar negotiations through which emergent reconfigurations of citizenship are being continually forged. In doing so, they provide a more culturally informed perspective on African politics and society.

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About the Author:

Mamadou Diouf is the Leitner Family Professor of African Studies, the Director of Columbia University's Institute for African Studies, USA, and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France. His research interests include urban, political, social and intellectual history in colonial and postcolonial Africa.

Rosalind Fredericks is an Assistant Professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, USA. Fredericks received her Ph.D. in Geography at the University of California, Berkeley and was a postdoc at Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. Her research interests include urban development, labor politics, social movements, and political ecology in postcolonial Africa.

Review:

"This collection is a major contribution to a recentred and more global urban studies it provides a definitive demonstration that conceptualisations of the urban must also begin with cities in Africa. Starting with the diverse experiences of life in cities across Africa, this volume collects the insights of a new generation of urban scholarship committed to contributing to wider understandings of urban citizenship through analysing the processes shaping these cities. The arts of citizenship are caught as they emerge, for example, in the carefully crafted words, styles and material forms of hip-hop in Dakar, les sapeurs in Brazzaville, courthouses in small towns in Mozambique, spiritual warfare emanating from sprawling religious camps outside Lagos, or the production of political legitimacy in oil-industry funded enclaves in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Far from simply reflecting cities in crisis, although they are surely that too, the authors show how powerful and disenfranchised alike recraft these cities and remake the terms of their inhabitation and rule, through recruiting widely varying idiomatic and global cultural repertoires and through specific reworkings of the material and built environment' - Jenifer Robinson, Professor, Department of Geography, University College London, UK

"The African city in all of its complexity, vitality and abjection has been at the forefront of theorizing not just the post-colonial city but the urban world writ large. This terrific collection by a new generation of urban ethnographers and historians, unpacks the everyday negotiations and practices through which the continent's cities are undergoing processes of worlding, and through which city residents, of multiple stripe, grapple with everyday life. Rather than pathologize or celebrate African urban life in a monochrome way, the diverse and exciting contributions offer up something else: cities as sites of experimentation and emergent reconfigurations of citizen that cannot be reduced to the great clanking gears of globalization, neoliberalism or state authority. A masterful collection whose reach will extend far beyond the community of Africanists.' - Michael Watts, Professor of Geography, Class of 1963 Chair, University of California, Berkeley, USA

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9781137516312: The Arts of Citizenship in African Cities: Infrastructures and Spaces of Belonging (Africa Connects)

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