Accepted paper:

The periphery in planning: urban aspirations and the right to urban life in the government of suburbs in Mozambique, 1945-2010


Tiago Castela (University of Coimbra)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the history of planning interventions for the government of suburbs in unequally divided cities in colonial and postcolonial Mozambique, foregrounding how the formation of planning knowledge, suffused with expert urban aspirations, has entailed ideas about the right to the city.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the history of the government of suburbs in colonial and postcolonial Mozambique—from 1945 to the 2010 riots in Maputo—to question the ways in which spatial planning knowledge has articulated disparate ideas about the right to urban life. The paper foregrounds a genealogy of planning interventions for the government of informally created suburbs: in the growing capital Maputo, created as part of the late Nineteenth Century occupation of southern Mozambique; and in the northern town of Angoche, whose existence predates European colonization. It argues for a broad conception of spatial government, as encompassing both state planning techniques—including situated participation practices—and the ways in which dwellers govern themselves. The paper focuses on understanding how the government of suburbs is suffused with the urban aspirations of officials and professionals. Such aspirations often involve a priori assumptions about suburban spaces as marginal to urban life, and a filtering out of the role of the periphery as an actant on planning. I propose that understanding suburbs as participating in an assemblage of urbanities is crucial for a reflexive formulation of the right to the city, and in particular for a disarticulation of participation from a management of unequal citizenships. In a contemporary world of suburbs that were mostly created informally, this history aims to provide tools to those engaged in imagining future modes of spatial government that acknowledge the potentialities of suburbs in Mozambique and elsewhere, and challenge persistences of colonial reason in present-day spatial planning.

panel P142
Housing suburbs in African cities: new urban paradigms