Forced displacement is a key element in urbanization processes in Africa. Temporary or permanent settlements have origin in displacements caused by war, land-grabbing projects or urban development. These new localities can emerge as places of tensions but can also create novel cultural geographies.
Social conflicts, war and/or rapid environmental change often displace thousands of Africans who head to cities in search of protection and better life opportunities. Others find themselves living in refugee camps, which generally outlive the emergency at their origin and commonly become permanent settlements, eventually giving birth to new towns. Land-grabs due to mega-projects of development are notorious for severe consequences and displaced communities who, pushed out of their ancestral rural lands, move to nearby towns or cities or find themselves gathered into semi-urban resettlements created by governments and the involved companies. Needless to say, similar situations can be found when urban development projects lead to evictions, leaving the affected populations without any kind of compensation or resettlement offer. A common feature of urbanization through forced displacement — such as refugee camps and resettlement schemes — is the lack of attention to the social and cultural characteristics of the dispossessed people. A situation that sometimes triggers renewed conflicts and tensions. Interestingly, this same scenario highlights extraordinary cultural resiliences, where displaced populations build new localities and displaced senses of belonging. This fact deterritorializes culture and enables the emergence of creative and disruptive cultural geographies among the urban fabric. This panel invites contributions that deal with contexts of urbanization through forced displacement, and that analyse how people appropriate these new urban-like settings, as well as the challenges they involve.