New port, road and rail infrastructure developments currently re-cast Africa's engagement with transnational politics and the global economy. This panel explores the implications of new economic infrastructures for political power and participation in specific urban localities across the continent.
Africa has long been considered peripheral to global flows of trade and production. Recent years, however have witnessed levels of investment in African transport infrastructure arguably not seen since the 1950s. New ports, roads and rail links and broader 'gateway' projects re-cast Africa's engagement with transnational politics and the global economy. In contrast to the late colonial period, European and North American funding and expertise are now in open competition with Dubai-based and Chinese as well as some well-resourced African players and their visions. Port cities, border towns and other urban or swiftly urbanizing hubs of transport are crucial nodes where past and current struggles over the enactment of these visions crystallize into concrete shapes in specific social and political settings. This panel invites participants to explore the following questions in particular: • Do different visions of transport infrastructure development by different funders privilege different processes of respacing Africa? • What are the implications of new economic infrastructures for political power and participation in specific urban localities? • Do they enable more inclusive access to economic opportunity or increase existing inequalities? • Who are the winners and losers of new infrastructure and technologies to protect them? • How might they shape visions of community and belonging? We invite papers approaching these questions from various disciplinary angles.