Accepted paper:

Incremental gains: Residential politics in Windhoek, Namibia

Authors:

Lalli Metsola (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the various forms of residents’ claim-making over land, services and housing, and official responses to these claims in the urban fringe settlements of Windhoek, Namibia. In particular, it discusses incrementality as a characteristic of both resident strategies and policies.

Paper long abstract:

The research of which this paper forms an early part focuses on the intersection of various forms of residents' claim-making over land, services and housing, and official responses to these claims in the urban fringe settlements - often informal - in Windhoek, Namibia and Gaborone, Botswana. In this connection, the author conducted fieldwork in Windhoek from mid-June to the end of August 2016. The purpose of this paper is to introduce findings from this field trip and to start situating them in the context of broader theoretical debates concerning political subjectivity, public authority, and state formation. The paper seeks, first, to outline the empirical patterns of claim-making, i.e. who the claimants are, to whom and in what forums resident claims are articulated, and how they are justified and reacted to in the Namibian setting characterized by rapid urbanization and widespread unemployment coupled with relatively strong state capacity - and expectations of such - to enhance citizen welfare. Second, the paper discusses incrementality as a characteristic of both resident strategies and policies, and the interplay between the two, pondering on whether, and how, such incremental strategies and policies may be productive of institutionalized forms of relations between citizens and authorities.

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