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Accepted Paper:

Urban Migration and ‘Informal/ shadow’ belonging: Evidence from Addis Ababa, Kampala and Lagos  
Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta (Addis Ababa University) Taibat Lawanson (University of Lagos) Daniel Hammett (University of Sheffield) Hakimu Sseviiri (Makerere University)

Paper short abstract:

Evidence from Lagos, Kampala and Lagos, show that marginalised urban migrants negotiate 'informal' or 'shadow' belonging in contexts of growing inequalities. They rely on informal sectors, and networks to progressively move forward through complex and dynamic levels of belonging and citizenship.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the ways marginalised urban migrants in primate cities creatively and progressively challenge inequalities and exclusions to claim a right to urban citizenship through 'informal' or 'shadow' belonging. Urban disparities and inequalities are growing in developing countries, often most profoundly illustrated and encountered in densely-populated and rapidly growing urban areas. The complex nature of “contested belonging” experienced by urban migrants is foregrounded in everyday experiences on issues such as access to land, housing, job, and documentation in juxtaposition with the political characters of the urban spaces. Based on empirical evidence from Addis Ababa, Kampala and Lagos, this paper identifies how migrants circumvent exclusionary practices in urban areas by resorting to the ‘informal’. Access to urban citizenship is negotiated and created through ‘shadow’ networks where ‘informal’ means including residing in informal housing, participating in informal economic activities and organizing oneself in ‘informal’ associations enables progressive stages of belonging (citizenship). In securing this access, migrants rely on the tactile agency of powerful networks, corrupt officials and possibilities of policy reform as well as elusive conditions such as persistent rituals and the feeling of security in their sense of community. While migrants can gradually move forward through the complex and dynamic levels of belonging, they also face precarity and insecurity due to evictions, reactionary policy reforms, conflicts or even abrupt changes in government. Consequently, many urban migrants occupy a space of ‘informal’ or ‘shadow’ belonging: simultaneously integral to the city while marginal to the protections, rights and opportunities of the city.

Panel Urba13
Migration and the making of urban futures in Africa
  Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -