Aftermaths: urban displacement and the poisoned promise of resettlement
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2017 at 14:00
This panel invites a range of empirical cases through which to explore and theorise the inter-play of urban displacement and resettlement as a dynamic arena within which both ordinary urban life and modes of urban governance and citizenship get asserted, contested and/or re-shaped.
African urban centres of different scales, in both colonial and postcolonial periods, have been sites of significant physical and symbolic displacements, the dimensions of which are marked by context-specific inter-weavings of temporal, spatial, political, economic, social and cultural elements. These displacements include state-generated evictions linked to so-called urban renewal or infrastructural expansion projects, peri-urban removals generated by encroaching natural resource investment projects such as mining, mass labour displacements due to major economic crises, party-political influenced dislocation campaigns, or the consequences of violent conflicts. Such urban displacements - often with rural entanglements - are sometimes accompanied by the promise of formal resettlement projects associated with either a local or central state authority or multilateral body, often backed by various external institutional resources be these international agencies, local churches or NGOs, or corporations. Oftentimes, however, the promise of official resettlement (also including repatriation), rather than delivering anticipated positive changes, results in poisoned or least paradoxical dynamics within the new resettlement sites, particularly with respect to dislocated livelihoods and lives. In other words, while creating some new opportunities, the resettlement 'site' (in its various manifestations) may also re-produce pre-existing power relations as well as generate new forms of socio-economic differentiation and spatial marginalization. This panel invites a range of empirical cases through which to explore and theorise the inter-play of urban displacement and resettlement as a dynamic arena within which both ordinary urban life and modes of urban governance and citizenship get asserted, contested and/or re-shaped.
Chair: Amanda Hammar
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Meet Abshir 'Citizenship Broker': Topologies of Citizenship for Somali Refugees in Nairobi
Meet Abshir, ‘citizenship broker’, who embodies Somali ‘refugeeness’ in Nairobi. Abshir is a gatekeeper for refugee citizenship in Nairobi and abroad.
Meet Abshir, a Somali refugee living in Nairobi. A self-proclaimed 'Urban Refugees and Embassies Consultant', Abshir consults Somali refugees in obtaining resettlement to third countries. Additionally, he is a middleman between resettled refugees and family members in Nairobi. He is a trusted payee receiving remittances from abroad to pay for rent and other expenses.
Drawn from fieldwork in 2015 and 2017, this paper focuses on Abshir because he is the embodiment of the Somali refugee 'transnational nomad' experience. Fleeing war in Somalia, deported from Saudi Arabia, and finally settling in Nairobi, Abshir is both constrained and thriving in Nairobi, a dialectic characteristic of many Somali refugees. He exemplifies 'displacement economies' where decades of transnational mobilities create livelihoods in Nairobi that did not exist before.
This paper engages with Critical Citizenship Studies to challenge citizen/non-citizen binaries, which argues that citizenship is not only rights/responsibilities imposed by the state from above, but 'acts of citizenship' are how subjects constitute citizenship from below. Abshir acts as a 'citizenship broker' by enabling Somali refugees to live in Eastleigh despite their non-citizen and unwelcome status in the city. Moreover, Abshir's knowledge of the resettlement programme, facilitating legal migration for refugees to the West, exemplifies a 'topological approach to citizenship'. This approach examines the fields of relation in bordering processes rather than physical and geographical boundaries. Paradoxically, for Somali refugees in Nairobi, the 'poisoned promise of [refugee] resettlement', personified in Abshir, illuminates citizenship as exclusion and integration, vulnerability and enrichment.
Unsettling Personhood and Citizenship through Urban Resettlement: Reflections from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
The paper examines how urban resettlement projects in Zimbabwe, seemingly aimed at countering mass physical and symbolic dislocations, overlay and often deepen patterns of systemic marginalisation, simultaneously unsettling complex distinctions and articulations between personhood and citizenship.
In an era of particularly intense urban displacement in post-2000 Zimbabwe, often-violent state-generated mass physical and symbolic dislocations have been followed by a few highly limited official urban resettlement projects. The language of 'care' or compensation attached to such projects has been a thinly masked attempt by the state to legitimise its displacement practices. At the same time, they have offered some displaced urban residents interesting if ambiguous opportunities for gaining access to property and hence (apparent) access to previously unattainable forms of legality and/or security. This in itself has altered relationships to personhood (a sense of being) and to citizenship (a sense of right) in different ways. Yet the conditions of these resettlement projects overlay and in some cases deepen pre-existing patterns of systemic marginalisation, or produce new dynamics of differentiation, simultaneously unsettling complex distinctions, and articulations, between personhood and citizenship. The paper draws specifically on ethnographic research conducted in various urban resettlement sites in and around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, over the period 2012 - 2016.
Being displaced: Gender conscious analysis of a Nubian self public spaces.
I deal with displacement/resettlement as a spatial issue, with a focus on gender in public spaces. In a case study in Egyptian Nubians, after their displacement in 1964. In this research I map my village, using autoethnographic methodology.
In this article, I aim to study power structures in resettled societies, specifically, to conduct spatial analysis with regard to issues of gender. This research takes a single case study approach; in which I chose the case of Qustul, a Nubian village displaced due to Aswan High Dam, to examine the change of spatial belonging within public spaces, and also to detect other qualities of publicness that have emerged. Public spaces are indeed political; for they represent values and foster the ability to reform these values. Therefore, I look at these spaces to see how mapping gender and spatial histories will grant an insight to changes, after 50 years of displacement.
Problematizing gender is central in this research; I believe studying how this matriarchal society has turned into a patriarchy, and its compliance to the patriarchal metanarrative of the Egyptian state; will offer many answers to current spatial issues. In this inquiry I, the researcher, position myself within the research; as I am from Qustul, to see how my being a scholar of urbanism, a feminist and a Nubian girl will impact the outcome, in which I use autoethnographic techniques.
The Inscription and Negotiation of Ethnic Difference in a Space of Urban Renewal
This paper examines the inscription of ethnic difference within a state project to constitute a pluralist vision of the nation in the aftermath of a violent political transition. It investigates how difference becomes in/visible through processes of urban development in everyday Addis Ababa.
This paper examines the inscription of ethnic difference within a state project to constitute a pluralist vision of the nation in the aftermath of a violent political transition. It investigates how difference becomes in/visible through processes of urban and infrastructural development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This work engages the everyday life of young men in an eviction site in the city center, navigating between erasures, ruins of their former demolished houses and creating new jobs in between emerging infrastructures.
Ethiopia was administratively reconstituted in 1991 and divided into nine ethnically identified regions and two multiethnic areas- one of the latter being Addis Ababa. Representing a fundamental break with the former Communist state and the earlier monarchy, the current regime has attempted to mediate citizenship through the formal recognition of ethnic difference as the key to national unity. How may unity be forged under a system that recognizes diverse ethnically based sovereignties? How do these inscriptions and affects emerge in everyday Addis Ababa? How do the spectacular attainments of the state, new infrastructures and the surge for national development, translate into the time-space, chronotope, that these young men situate themselves in?
Unintended consequences: contradictory outcomes of resettlement in a South African city
The Housing Programme has resettled many residents, and their approval depends on multiple factors. The case, Hammonds Farm, reveals contradictory outcomes: economic displacement alongside gratitude. Given these mixed outcomes, re-conceptualisation of ‘displacement’ and ‘resettlement’ are explored.
The national South African Housing Programme has succeeded in providing around 4 million housing 'opportunities' for poor residents many of whom have experienced resettlement as a direct result of programme implementation. Advanced under positive policy rhetoric, such resettlement has proved popular with residents in some respects, with significant variations occurring across the country depending on multiple factors (location, amenities, cost, access to employment, build quality, extent of participation etc). This paper draws on a case from the city of Durban which explores these contradictory and oftentimes poisonous outcomes for residents and points to the challenges of urban change alongside citizenship gains in contexts of high unemployment, poverty and inequality. The case is Hammonds Farm, where many residents have been moved from Ocean Drive-In, a former squatter settlement some 17 km further out on the city's periphery. Resettled residents combine gratitude for shelter, privacy and security alongside intense anxiety over direct impacts on livelihoods opportunities. Resettlement has made them poorer. The one-off nature of the housing subsidy makes this reality more fraught, in that securing better-located formal housing is unfeasible, and the financial pressures on residents results in new tensions and violence, previously less common. The paper questions how we conceptualise 'displacement' and 'resettlement' when outcomes are so mixed.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.