Accepted paper:

Practicing possibility: Seeing like 5°21'00.5"N 4°04'22.2"W


Susann Ludwig (University of Leipzig)

Paper short abstract:

Taking up a spatial perspective, this paper explores ways in which to account for 'becoming' beyond the binary of the event and the everyday and towards an understanding of people's practice of possibilities.

Paper long abstract:

"Ficgayo" is an empty space the size of two soccer fields. It is surrounded by the main roads and located at the center of Yopougon, the most densely populated district of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Ficgayo is a multipurpose venue. Back then, the imaged future of this space was to have the form and function of a town hall. Today, it is something else. But what? For reasons that I explore in this paper, the space is an infrastructural assemblage providing ground for possibility to operate. The primary purpose of Ficgayo is "multiple". It is a space of becoming (Deleuze & Guattari). "At Ficgayo there's nothing going on, unless there something going on", people in Yopougon say. From the perspective of Ficgayo itself, however, there is always something going on. Therefore, taking up a spatial perspective is key in order to illuminate "what is going on when nothing is going on". Based on ethnographic fieldwork at Ficgayo in Abidjan, this paper attempts to account for 'urban becoming' beyond the binary of the event and the everyday and to rethink possibility when there is nothing else available but space. Every single day, Ficgayo acts as a space in which people are busy hosting soccer matches, funerals, a driving school, meetings, school, business, prayers and people taking shortcuts, medical advice, a break, a bite or a bus. The question is: How are these practices accomplished, recognized and, therewith, made intelligible?

panel Anth14
Rethinking urban theory from African cities