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Out of time? - Temporalities of African Urban (Re)Development

Cristiana Strava (Leiden University)
Zoƫ Goodman (SOAS)
Urban Space
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Short abstract:

We currently live in a global historical moment saturated with crisis narratives and a resurgence of developmentalist agendas. This panel aims to discuss and theorize the experience and emergent temporal registers of new developmentalist projects targeting African urban geographies.

Long abstract:

We are currently living through a moment marked by the intensification of crises (ecological, social, political), in which a certain sense of running 'out of time' has come to dominate and influence collective temporal experiences. The geographical and spatial expression of this state can be increasingly found in the building of gated communities and the progressive militarization of urban geographies. Aided by the enduring logics of colonial ideas that saw African space as a blank slate, existing 'outside of time', cities across the continent have become urban testing grounds for the production of exclusionary geographies (new capitals, mega-projects and special economic zones). Anthropologists and geographers alike have recently retrained their attention on time - its affective dimensions, political uses, and capitalist instrumentalization - as part of a sustained engagement with lived neo-liberalism (Bear 2017, Tucker 2017). The panel aims to add to this discussion by asking: How are current modernization and urban upgrading schemes indebted to or genealogically related to previous colonial and developmental ideologies and projects? How does historical time figure, or not, in policy and governance narratives about urban redevelopment? What are some of the temporal registers that structure the experience of urban communities in post-colonial cities across the continent? Can we speak of alternative, dissident temporalities in answer to neo-liberal, teleological time-frames? And how do the different discourses and agendas related to climate and security crises impact the reproduction of local social temporalities? Ethnographically informed papers as well as more historical engagements with these questions are welcome.

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