Current dominant urban imaginaries set into motion interventions aimed at modernizing and ordering the African city. The panel examines how they impact on the lives of urban residents, how these experience such interventions and contest, subvert or embrace dominant city visions.
African cities are widely represented as sites of disorder and decay. Against this background, one can discern the emergence of certain urban imaginaries that envisage the reversal of this state of affairs. These imaginaries tend to be informed by Western planning ideals and to emphasize economic growth and competitiveness. Internationally circulating ideas articulate with state actors' rationalities and set into motion interventions aimed at modernizing and ordering the African city. Ultra-modern and mega infrastructure projects seek to attract investors and to reinvent the image of cities. African cities increasingly endeavor to host international events, which are often preceded by projects of urban renewal and are seen as an instrument for materializing 'world-class city' aspirations. Frequently, such interventions necessitate the displacement of urban groups in an already precarious situation. For these imaginaries are associated with particular visions of the 'good city' that define who has the right to inhabit the city and who does not belong in it. In the process, patterns of socio-spatial inclusion and exclusion in the city are recast. The panel examines how dominant representations of the 'good city' and related interventions impact on the lives of various urban groups. It explores how urban residents experience such interventions and how they contest, subvert or embrace dominant city visions.