Accepted paper:

Politics of the unknown. Urbanity, rumor, and knowledge production in Conakry, Guinea


Joschka Philipps (Swisspeace & Centre for African Studies Basel (CASB))

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores urbanity through the lens of knowledge production. Looking at the Guinean transition period (2008-10), it inquires into how the city juxtaposes a variety of interpretations of political history and how political conflicts align with conflicts of knowledge production.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores urbanity through the lens of knowledge production in a context of uncertainty. It inquires how knowledge is produced about the Guinean 'transition' (2008-10), a recent political period of two years with three different regimes and four acting presidents, in which political alliances, networks, and antagonisms steadily shifted. It asks how certainty is established, and how is uncertainty dealt with, when different media disseminate heterogeneous and contradictory truths, when different social circles within and across different neighborhoods, in different languages, offer a variety of interpretations that the city juxtaposes and intertwines day by day in ordinary encounters. And finally, it wonders how such urbanity can be recognized as a potential glimpse into future urbanities, where diversity is ubiquitous and where political interests and conflicts are likely to align quite palpably with interests and conflicts of knowledge production. Based on surveys, interviews, and ethnographic research in Conakry, Guinea, mostly amongst journalists, politicians and activists, youth subcultures, and international development staff, this paper traces these questions across diverse settings. Inspired by the writings of Gilbert Simondon and AbdouMaliq Simone, it highlights the city as an indefinite space of encounters, with all the potentials and politics that come with it.

panel P049
Urban Africa, Voice, and Politics