Urban governance in Africa: a grounded inquiry
Marianne Millstein (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Amanda Hammar (Copenhagen University)
Eric Hahonou (Roskilde University)
Eric Hahonou
Amanda Hammer/Marianne Millstein
Start time:
28 June, 2013 at 10:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Many studies refer to 'governance' when they explore urban dynamics in African cities, but these processes are often insufficiently theorised. The panel welcomes papers on everyday practices of urban governing to deepen our understanding of what constitutes urban governance in African contexts.

Long abstract:

Cities and towns in Africa, as elsewhere, are often intensely concentrated spaces of control and contestation, delivery and decline, with respect to public infrastructure and services that directly - and differentially - affect private lives. Interweaving political and economic dynamics and actors in given times and places critically shape the ways in which such urban services, structures, spaces and resources are handled, accessed, policed, negotiated or transformed. An increasing number of case studies from African cities refer to 'urban governance' when they explore these complex dynamics. Still, urban governance processes are poorly understood in African contexts where state capacities are limited, alternative authorities and service providers are surfacing, and citizens' positions and access to resources rely on more or less informal relations and processes. Put differently, the "everyday" practices of urban governing and how these shape citizens' access to services and their broader political and economic realities, should be further explored as part of our endeavour to make sense of urban governance processes and practices in African cities. This panel welcomes papers based on empirically-grounded research on such everyday practices and their implications, to deepen our understanding and theorising of what actually constitutes 'urban governance' in African contexts. The papers are intended to help challenge and nuance the use of this conceptual frame to capture the dynamics of citizens' everyday experiences with public service delivery on the one hand, and of the various authorities, providers and gate-keepers engaged with service delivery on the other.