This panel organised by the CRG Violent Conflict addresses the complex relationship between dynamics of violent conflict and urbanization. It mainly focuses on the political aspects of rural-urban transformation and the way in which urban centres become critical resources in conflict and post-conflict political agendas.
This panel addresses the complex relationship between dynamics of violent conflict and urbanization in Africa. Cases of protracted situations of civil war such as the DRC, South Sudan or Uganda have demonstrated a correlation between increases of violence, forced mobility and increase of urbanization. Conflict-induced rural-urban transformation takes multiple forms, through the rapid, uncontrolled growth of established cities, the emergence of new boomtowns, or the urbanization of refugee settlements. This panel not only intends to investigate the nature of this 'conflict urbanism', it will equally take closer look at its political aspects. Apart from a spatial, demographic, administrative and socio-economic process, urbanization in conflict settings is also highly political and central to dynamics of state formation and power contestation. For different actors involved in conflict dynamics such as armed groups, the state military, international peace-keeping forces or vigilantes, urban centres represent important strategic sites or nodes in their strategies for control, authority and legitimacy. Besides the politics of urban development or urban planning by violent conflict actors or post-conflict regimes, the politics of urbanization also lies in cities and 'the urban' becoming strategic resources, for extraction, for violent mobilization, for electoral politics or for peace-building. This Panel particularly invites papers focusing on conflict and post-conflict regions, critically engaging with the dynamics interactions between violence, war and rural-urban change.