Accepted Paper:

Remaking from Below: Subaltern Experiences in Postcolonial Freetown  


Ibrahim Abdullah (Fourah Bay College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about contestation and transformation from below. Its subject is the urban poor and their quotidian struggles around citizenship in post-colonial Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Paper long abstract:

This paper deals with the archeology of violence and urban exclusion in postcolonial Freetown. It argues that subalterns underwent a double exclusion--from the colonial to the post-colonial--first as natives on the basis of race, and then subsequently, as a marginal social category. Their dogged resistance to structuration from above compels us to rethink the city and the citizenry in new ways that challenge out conception of urbanisation, citizenship and the nation-state in contemporary Africa. It discusses the colonial restrictions from above and the exclusion of natives in the colonial city based on race; examines the post-colonial divide and the reinvention of natives as subalterns within the prism of class; and finally interrogates the monumental changes that continue to make and remake post-war Freetown and the travails of the urban poor.

Panel P131
Popular claim-making, public authority and governance in urban Africa