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Accepted Paper:

Escaping the Modernity Trap: Economic Informalisation and Citizenship in Urban Zimbabwe  
Kristina Pikovskaia (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Economic informalisation led to a disconnect between people’s early postcolonial urban modernist ideas and reality. While the government retained modernist foundations of citizenship (employment, taxation, productivity, and residence), people started rethinking them to fit the economic reality.

Paper long abstract:

Widespread economic informalisation in Zimbabwe from the late 1990s posed many socio-economic and political challenges to people, civil society, political parties, and the government. It created a rupture between urban residents’ modernist expectations of the city which stemmed from early post-colonial (and even colonial) times and their reality which, on the one hand, made many of these modernist ideals unattainable and, on the other hand, became characterised by the narratives and practices of survival and adaptation. This disconnect was experienced and expressed on many levels ranging from people’s everyday experiences to state politics. It had a profound impact on people’s lives and their understanding and practices of urban citizenship. On the grassroots level, people started gradually engaging in debates about the nature of urban citizenship and challenging the early post-colonial top-down foundations of urban citizenship, such as formal employment, productivity, taxation, and urban residence. Retaining modernist aspirations, people started rethinking these foundations of citizenship and shaping distinct notions and practices of lived citizenship that speak to their economic reality.

Panel Poli24
Trials and transformations: the futures of citizenship in Africa
  Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -