List of panels

(P052)

Designing African creative cities

Location C6.09
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2013 at 14:30

Convenor

Jenny Mbaye (City University of London) email
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Short Abstract

This panel invites scholars exploring the concept and practice of creative cities and economies grounded in African realities. It focuses on meaningful articulations of culture, creativity and urban development in and for Africa, to suggest an endogenous knowledge of African creative cities.

Long Abstract

Despite the increasing importance of the creative economy and the rising interests in the creative city both in academia and policy-circles, these two phenomena still remain under-researched in the African context. In fact, while the diverse designers and producers of African creative cities, i.e. the public officials and policy-makers, and the active practitioners and workers part of the civil society have started to inquire and address the processes of creativity in relation to its economic dynamics and its potential for urban development, their respective endeavours rarely converge.

This panel thus invites scholars appropriating and engaging with an endogenous exploration and understanding of the concept and practice of creative cities and economies, while grounding their discussion in the African realities. More specifically, it aims at exploring meaningful articulations of culture, creativity and urban development in and for Africa. As such, it recognises that cities have emerged as distinctive political entity, with a strong potential for initiating interactive and sustainable development of societies, both locally and trans-locally.

With increasingly urbanised countries, African cities have become the crucibles of dynamics, evolving cultural as well as economic practices. Therefore, besides the productive explorations of various African cultural and creative economies, this panel welcomes contributions focusing on copyrights management and accountability, status of artists and other cultural workers, urban and national cultural and public art policies, heritage conservation and preservation, urban planning and architecture, landscape urbanism, urban design and social cohesion, urban culture and public art.

Chair: Jenny Fatou Mbaye
Discussant: Edgar Pieterse

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

African creative cities: developing a new vision of the African city

Author: Avril Joffe (University of the Witwatersrand)  email
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Short Abstract

There is evidence to suggest that some African cities wish to be known as cultural or creative cities and that arts practitioners and creative practitioners are encouraging these cities to do so in the expectation of the benefits to urban planning, the residents, or the artist communities themselves.

Long Abstract

Linked to the now almost universal desire since the early 1990's of developed country cities to embrace the concept of a creative city or cultural capital there is evidence to suggest that some African cities, along with other developing country cities, wish to be known as cultural or creative cities and that arts and creative practitioners are encouraging their cities to do so in the expectation of the benefits to urban planning, the residents, or the artist communities themselves. This paper will highlight both the common points of intersections as well as the inherent tensions between these diverse experiences based on the cities of Nairobi, Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Casablanca.

On the one hand, there seems to be a movement to try and deconstruct ideas of what it means to be living in urban Africa. Cities show a desire to move away from the stereotype of the African city - as places of poverty, starvation and conflict towards showcasing the African metropolis - highlighting modern African culture in urbanized centres. On the other hand a clear starting point for artists and creative practitioners is the importance of agglomeration in urban settings with their associated need for services, appropriate public spaces and infrastructure and their collective consumption of urban popular culture.

The development of 'AfricaCAN', with the aim of encouraging African Cultural cities, provides an important starting point for these cities and arts practitioners to work closely together with existing city-based networks and institutions on the continent.

A place for creative exchange? The role of culture, arts and creativity in urban planning in east Africa

Author: Stephanie Koenen (University of Edinburgh)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper explores linkages between urban planning and local creative practice in the cities of Kampala, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. It reviews respective policy initiatives and presents creative work that critically engages with social and economic urban transformation in the three cities.

Long Abstract

Africa's cities are experiencing significant changes in their social, cultural and economic ecology. With urbanisation being a key phenomenon, many African governments are developing new urban planning schemes to address the future demand. While city planning offers spatial and political visions, architecture, culture and creative expression play a crucial role in defining, shaping and sustaining the urban environment.

The paper explores the relationship between cultural and creative practice and urban planning in East Africa. Focussing on the three cities of Kampala, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, it seeks to reveal the role of arts, architecture and culture in current city planning. This could entail involvement of local creative practitioners in designing future visions and encouraging public engagement, or refer to any intended specific provision of support for the cultural sector. With city planning projects often being designed and conducted by international consultancies, the interplay between local and global ideas will be of particular interest for the analysis.

In the light of initial discussions around an African Creative Cities Network based on the UNESCO Creative Cities programme, on the one hand, the paper will review respective national and city-based cultural policy initiatives. At the same time, it explores local creative initiatives that engage with, and contribute to, urban development. By critically reflecting upon the findings in terms of existing notions of 'creative cities', the paper aims at contributing to the broader debate on 'place-making' and the opportunities of culture and creativity for African city development.

The university city duality: redesigning East London, South Africa

Author: Leslie Bank (Human Sciences Research Council)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the potential of the city-university duality as a foundation for redesigning and developing a South African city.

Long Abstract

This paper focuses on the relationship between an emerging university and urban development in one of South Africa's newest metropolitan regions, Buffalo City. In 2004 the University of Fort Hare acquired an urban campus in East London, but has done little to develop this campus over the past decade. This paper explores how investment in the city campus could change the face of the city, which has long been seen as a conservative, white settler seaside resort, now in a state of terminal decline. The paper will interrogate aspects of the relationship between universities and cities in Africa and eslewhere, while also reflecting on some of the design elements and principles associated with the emerging Fort Hare East London campus project.

Does culture enable national reconciliation? Post-Algerian civil war creative economy

Author: Samia Henni (Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETHZ)  email
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Short Abstract

Since the end of its Civil War, Algeria made a considerable effort at promoting a “national reconciliation based on Algerian culture” proclaimed by Algerian president. The cultural policy and the institutionalisation of the creative economy are being significantly restructured.

Long Abstract

Tlemcen, a historic town in North-western Algeria, was the capital of Islamic culture for the year 2011 nominated by the Islamic Organization for Education, Culture and Sciences (ISESCO). This event enabled Tlemcen and Algeria to rethink its national identity and cultural productions, restore and reopen its architectural Islamic heritage, and consequently to reclaim its pre-French colonial history. Furthermore, this event preannounced the nature of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Algerian Independence launched on the 5th of July 2012.

These attempts at a "national reconciliation based on Algerian culture", announced by Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, remain decisive and valuable and need to be critically discussed, although Algerians are still endeavouring to recover from the cruelty and violence of both Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) and Algerian Civil War (1991-2002).

In Algeria, the cultural policy is established by the state and it operates according to a centralized model inherited from France. The Ministry of Culture announces, locates, controls and finances most cultural activities and artistic productions and therefore the private sector remains considerably fragile. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Culture was asked to make special and effective efforts since 2002 to promote the Algerian "national reconciliation".

Based on a qualitative approach, this contribution offers an in-depth investigation of post-Civil War institutionalization of Algerian creative economy and its national impacts and regional integrations. It suggests that the national cultural policy will inevitably be restructured due to and thanks to the massive return of various Algerian creative actors.

On the role of new performance cultures in reviving Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) as an African creative city

Author: Anne Schumann (University of the Witwatersrand)  email
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Short Abstract

As copyright piracy has undermined the financial viability of the Ivoirian music industry, concerts have become a source of income for artists. This paper examines the strategies of cultural entrepreneurs in the creation of new live venues which are reviving Abidjan as an African creative city.

Long Abstract

Within twelve years of its emergence as a musical style at the University of Abidjan residence in Yopougon in 1991, the fame of zouglou music soared across borders and continents. Zouglou music is predominantly locally produced and recorded, and pirated CDs and VCDs dominate the market. These informal modes of circulation have contributed to its diffusion, while at the same time undermining the financial viability of the Ivoirian music industry. Widespread copyright piracy has put enormous financial pressure on Ivoirian record labels: in late 2008, Showbiz, Côte d'Ivoire's largest record label that housed up to 80 percent of releases closed down. A large number of smaller labels have also closed due to bankruptcy. Due to piracy, Ivoirian artists have also experienced difficulty in surviving financially from their music. Concerts and performances have become a major source of income. Yet until recently Ivoirian artists (especially of the genres zouglou and coupé décalé) performed primarily via play-back. Performances were hampered by the lack of appropriate venues and the high cost of existing venues: Abidjan's showcase concert venue, the Palais de la Culture, is the most expensive of its kind in West Africa. However, recently there has been a new development: many new maquis (open air restaurants) have opened as new affordable performance spaces in which artists perform live, rather than via play-back. This paper will examine these new performance spaces in the Ivoirian music economy as well as the role of cultural entrepreneurs in reviving Abidjan as an African creative city.

Tailoring cloth, tailoring alternative modernities on the 21th century: a co-education program designed with the African tailors in Lisbon

Author: Sofia Vilarinho (Faculty of Architecture Lisbon)  email
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Short Abstract

African tailors are one the main agents in the creation of local/regional fashion. This article discusses a case study with African tailors in Lisbon. In a one-year Lab/workshop, culture, creativity and sustainable development meet cross-knowledge sharing on tailoring.

Long Abstract

Working with cosmopolitan vision, African tailors are readers and narrators of a dialectic relationship between Africa's tradition and contemporaneity. Aesthetics par excellence, these artisans, using mainly West African clothing, baste 'new' cloth to dress the 'new' Africa(s). As this research identified, the endogenous knowledge these tailors hold is not recognized as a cultural (re)generator.

This project is part of a PHD research aiming both to apply, at an academic level, identity, tradition and fashion-able challenges of African capulana fabric into the 21th century fashion and, in parallel, to contribute, in a applied form, towards social justice through sustainable fashion design, this latter seen as a vehicle for knowledge empowerment, to improve better livelihood and self-representation.

Specifically, this article proposes the first co-learning platform for African tailors, where culture works as mediation for space and dialogue. Idealized by the author and fashion designer Sofia Vilarinho and supported by the Fashion Institute Modatex, the model has been developed in Lisbon, with the aim to apply it locally, in various African contexts. This program may contribute to develop a model of working facing an alternative approach to the 21th fashion/clothing system and exchange deeper values that work cognitive levels, identity, and cultural narratives together with economic sustainability.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.