Ordering power? State-led housing delivery in post-war Luanda, Angola
Anne Pitcher (University of Michigan)
Sylvia Croese (University of Cape Town)
Paper short abstract:
The paper claims that Angola's authoritarian regime relies on different residential locations, architectural designs, and construction materials to socially engineer particular kinds of political and economic relationships with the urban poor and the middle class in Luanda.
Paper long abstract:
Although much of the urban studies literature focuses on the modernist, developmental, or neoliberal drivers of urban restructuring in the global South, it overlooks the ways in which many regimes, especially those with more authoritarian features, rely on the creation of satellite cities and housing projects to reinforce their legitimacy and assert their political authority. In recent years, a number of authoritarian governments from Ethiopia to Singapore have provided housing to the middle class and the poor, not only to alleviate housing shortages, or to bolster a burgeoning real estate market, but also to "order power" and to buy the loyalty of residents. To illustrate a series of theoretical claims regarding the city building inclinations of authoritarian states in developing countries, we rely on a public opinion survey of nearly 300 poor and middle class respondents from three housing projects on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola. We combine survey data with interviews of residents, government officials, real estate agents, and housing managers to demonstrate how the state employs different locations, architectural designs, and housing materials to socially engineer particular kinds of political and economic relationships with the urban poor and the middle class. Alongside increasing social and spatial differentiation brought about by state policies, however, we also document the ways in which such policies have been captured by market forces, state officials, and the everyday actions of ordinary residents who turn houses into businesses or commodities.
Urban Africa, Voice, and Politics