The Bureaucratic City: The Politics of Organising Urban Life in colonial and postcolonial Africa 
Susann Baller (MIASA Legon GHI Paris)
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Start time:
30 June, 2017 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel explores African cities as sites of different bureaucratic practices, which serve as a form of complex organisation of urban life (both governmental and non-governmental). It analyses how urban cultures shape bureaucratic practices, and how daily bureaucracies influence urban life.

Long Abstract

This panel explores the deeper meaning of the "bureaucratic city" in Africa. Recent research on African cities has often focused on urban (popular) cultures and everyday life. This panel argues that bureaucratic practices have (and have had) an important impact both upon and within urban life. Bureaucratic practices are examined as a form of complex organisation of urban life, often expressed in processes of formalisation, regulation, office place, minutes and reports. They include the "city of bureaucrats" with government offices, the municipality, paper work and files, but also concern the more informal organisation of urban life in neighbourhood or ethnic associations, commercial and religious networks etc. The panel analyses how urban cultures produce their own bureaucratic practices (for instance, in associations), and how they influence the bureaucracies of both governmental and non-governmental agencies. Moreover, the panel asks how the "city of bureaucrats" shapes the city and urban life. It is interested in papers, which examine how bureaucratic practices have changed over time (and how they changed African cities), and how different technologies (including more recent electronic tools) have affected the form of complex organisation of urban life in past and present. In addition, it considers the urban-rural encounters in African cities as well as the connections between urban Africa and the African Diaspora an interesting field for exploring the bureaucratic practices, which go along with them. The panel considers, that "living the city" in Africa also means "living the bureaucratic city" in Africa.

Accepted papers: