P119
The Practice and Politics of DIY Urbanism in African Cities

Convenors:
Stephen Marr (Malmö University)
Patience Mususa (The Nordic Africa Institute)
Chair:
Patience Mususa
Discussant:
Stephen Marr
Stream:
Panels
Location:
PG0VS
Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Current emphasis on experimentations in and with the informal or "invisible" city offer evocative, yet ambiguous, depictions of contemporary urban life. The proposed panel thus invites submissions that engage themes related to the making and meaning of what we call "DIY urbanism."

Long abstract:

Recent conceptualizations of African urbanism(s), exemplified by the work of A.M. Simone and Filip de Boeck, consider African cities and citizens on their own terms, rather than measuring how well they conform to a set of universal urban aesthetic or behavioral standards. Subsequent to this shift, one emergent conceptual truism is that the unpredictable, predatory, and/or unequal distribution of infrastructure(s) often found in African cities prompts residents to experiment or improvise their daily encounters with both urban environments and each other. Although the emphasis on experimentations in and with the informal or "invisible" city offer evocative depictions of contemporary urban life, they remain ambiguous in both application and definition. The proposed panel thus invites submissions that engage themes related to the making and meaning of what we might term "DIY urbanism." Topics of interest include papers that seek to elaborate on these concepts and processes through critical analysis or case studies, as well as engagements with more speculative questions: what are the political implications of experimentation or DIY urbanism? For the urban poor, does DIY urbanism represent a form of resistance or acquiescence in the class-stratified environments African cities, which are themselves situated in a milieu of unequal neoliberal globalisms? Given the diversity of urban settings in Africa, to what extent is it possible to generalize about practices of DIY urbanism? The panel especially welcomes proposals that adopt a comparative stance, from within and between African cities, as well as those that incorporate a more expansive cross-regional perspective.