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Accepted Paper:

Gathered tidal stories: The beach beneath the bridge  
Irmelin Joelsson (NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper Short Abstract:

Cities like Dar es Salaam are crucibles for a heterogeneous crowd of unformed potential where urban futures can arrive from any quarter, bridge, or beach. Exploring financial relations from an urban beach elucidates the eternal return of the tide and the potentialities its movements provide.

Paper Abstract:

In 2016, Tanzania’s (late) president inaugurated a giant cable-stayed bridge in Dar es Salaam's harbour with the promise that “the bridge will build the economy”, an important step towards the “New Tanzania” materialised through the urban interface.

Yet, the bridge’s “economy” was located at an Olympian remove from the activities taking place beneath the bridge, at the beach. Leading towards a future of state-funded development promises, the bridge concealed a parallel rhythm: the tidal temporality of the lives lived in a neighbourhood known as Minazini Beach. Between ebb and flow the residents carved out an existence gathering remnants the tide brought to earn their livelihoods.

In Swahili, the nouns uchumi (“economy”) and chuma (“earning”) derive from the same verb; kuchuma. Like uchumi, kuchuma has multiple meanings that blend into each other. Kuchuma is used to describe the multiplicity of activities relating to the popular economies, including “to gather”, “to collect”, and “to earn”. The clue is in the grammar: uchumi and chuma are both instantiations of kuchuma, which complicate perceptions of what makes up "formal" and "informal" speculations.

Rending visible the beach’s affordances I aim to provisionally “gather” (Strathern 2017) a set of actions and qualities of Minazini Beach that elucidates the eternal return of the tide and the potentialities its movements provide. Understanding the beach as foundational of life and the economic activities that makes up life, I argue that the future of the beach becomes urgent to every location eclipsed by similar tidal conditions across the majority world.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 2 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -