Waterfront development revisited. Contesting global North notions based on research in Abidjan, Côte d´Ivoire
(University of Bonn)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic data from Abidjan, we will challenge global North notions of waterfront development and suggest an African twist to the concept, which stress the different historical trajectories and legal issues that have turned waterfronts into ´social problem spaces´.
Paper long abstract:
While waterfront development in the global North began during the 1970s on abandoned underused docklands and polluted industrial areas, investment in public waterfronts in Sub-Sahara Africa has taken momentum since 2000 during the second, now global wave of waterfront development. Before, public waterfronts have rather been perceived as dirty backyards of cities with pollution problems and over-crowded settlements. Waterfronts in Abidjan are public. Many were originally neither included in planning nor settled upon to get around swampy grounds, inundation and pollution. Due to the spatial division of the colonial city on the one hand and the port/ industrial zones on the other hand, workers auto-constructed spontaneous settlements by the water. As a result of public housing policy after independence, these settlements turned into accommodation for poor urbanites and further grew in size and number. They also accommodated people displaced by the Ivorian civil war. Since 2011, the Abidjan city government implemented evictions using the ´quarters under risk´ argument. Based on ethnographic data, we will challenge global North notions of waterfront development and suggest an African twist to the concept, which stress the different historical trajectories and legal issues that have turned waterfronts into ´social problem spaces´, as well as their increasing environmental vulnerability.
Spatial theory and African urban studies