Accepted paper:

Mobility, Conviviliaity, and Conflict in Africa's Urban Estuaries


Loren Landau (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

Human mobility introduces multiple subjectivities and trajectories into rapidly transforming urban space. This paper considers the emerging spatial forms of regulation and subjectivity generated within these sites.

Paper long abstract:

Varied forms of mobility are rapidly transforming communities across the world. In Africa's cities and urban peripheries, the results of human movements include ever more diverse sets of new arrivals living alongside longer-term residents as they seek protection, profit and passage elsewhere. Some move on, others return home while still others shift within in search of new opportunities or security. In the absence of muscular state institutions or dominant cultural norms, these areas have become estuarial zones in which varied communities of convenience are taking shape. Unlike well documented urban gateways or ghettos, these communities range from radical forms of exclusion to remarkable modes of accommodation which enable people to extract usufruct rights: to live in but not become fully part of the cities the occupy. Using examples from Maputo, Johannesburg, and Nairobi, this paper explores the nature of these estuaries in ways that challenge the conceptual foundations typically informing debates over migrant rights, integration, and the boundaries of belonging. This means eroding clear distinctions between hosts and guests along with a call to re-evaluate the relative importance of state institutions and policies. Most fundamentally, it questions new residents' interests in localised political and social recognition and participation. The article concludes by suggesting the need to reconsider the forms and scale of community through which the newly urbanised claim rights and the nature of the rights they desire.

panel P125
Everyday Citizenship: entanglements of state power, space and citizenship in contemporary Africa