The panel aims to explore the contemporary politics of informality in Africa´s cities focusing on various facets of the encounter between the "formal" and the "informal" city, their set of rules, institutions and actors.
The panel aims to engage with one of the broad questions of the conference, i.e. whether and how urbanization undermines or fosters efforts at overcoming inequalities. We seek to investigate various facets of the encounter between the "formal" and the "informal" city, their set of rules, institutions and actors. The politics of informality is often viewed in terms of a binary opposition between the "informal" actors as opposing state power and the "formal" actors supporting the state. We argue that the relations between "informal" actors and the state cannot be reduced to such antagonism. Many urban dwellers operate across the "formal-informal continuum", which opens up the possibility of exchange and collaboration but also creates tensions. The "formal" and "informal" city meet at a whole host of interfaces, issues such as urban land use, housing, trade and business. Though the two "worlds" are governed by different rules and their encounter may entail tension and conflict, there is ample space for diverse alliances across the formal-informal divide. The panel seeks ethnographically informed papers offering a nuanced understanding of the nature of relations between "informal" actors and the "formal" power in African cities. The focus is on how "informal" actors negotiate state regulation, how they contest policies, how they claim recognition and basic socio-economic rights and how processes of inclusion and exclusion operate. Given the diversity of interests and actors in today's informal activities we particularly seek papers that investigate the political subjectivities of informal actors and their associations.