How to govern the making of urban space in Africa between informality and mobility?
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 14:00
The panel looks at how mobility interplays with informality in making urban spaces with particular attention at how local and translocal informal actors and their everyday mobile practices transform spaces and influence the policy-making process.
This panel aims to discuss how the recent urban expansion is entangled with informality and mobility all over the African continent. Informality is understood here not as a sector but as a historical process and a mode of spatial production, involving a great variety of actors. Their everyday practices produce and reshape the urban space as the outcome of a constant negotiation with the state. The state, particularly local government in a context of neoliberal decentralised governance, plays a key role and exercises influence over these actors and activities. Moreover, such social practices have incorporated over time the element of mobility, another historical pattern of African society as informality, that today articulates geographies among long distances and different locations. Novel trans-regional flows and settlement patterns arise, representing the actual, underexplored, infrastructure of the contemporary African urban life.
The panel calls for contributions based on empirical research in different African countries which adopt a relational approach looking at how mobility interplays with informality in making urban spaces, not only in explored rural-urban and intra-urban daily mobility, but also across transnational and translocal spaces. In particular, the panel would like to address questions as: how is informality expressed and experienced through mobile practices and which are their socio-spatial manifestations? How are actors, involved in multiple local and translocal informal networks of social and economic exchange, engaged in transformation processes? How they interact with and influence the policy-making process or are institutionalized by the municipal modes of real governance?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Mobility and the Informal Labour Market: The Case of Casual Labourers in Owerri Metropolis, Nigeria
In Owerri, Nigeria road-junctions are labour markets for migrants. Investigation revealed that labourers roam in a disorganized way, rush on employers and they work 7 - 12 hours daily. Since labourers are ever mobile they are in possession of all their tools. Government should institutionalize them.
In the decades after Structural adjustment in Nigeria, the labour market has changed significantly. The informal labour market has expanded in cities as the adverse effects of the neo-liberal reconstruction of the Nigerian state and markets have deepened. However the history of the conglomeration of casual labour in Owerri (the capital of Imo State) is linked to 1976 when the state was created. Road-junctions became recruitment posts that serve as labour market for migrants that commute daily from the rural hinterlands to the metropolis in search of jobs and by evening return back to their villages or dwell in squatter settlements at the suburb. This study identifies ways the informality is expressed, examines the nature of involvement of employers and workers in diverse informal networks of exchange, and determines how they can be assisted by the state. Primary data were obtained from structured and unstructured questionnaires, use of interview schedule and focus group discussions (FGDs). The study revealed that labourers roam around the junctions in a disorganized way and rush on employers of labour; and their work hours range from 7 - 12 hours daily. Since labourers are ever mobile they are in possession of all their tools each morning. They dominate in construction work and cargo handling. Employers admit that there is good bargaining, and no agreement signing is required during recruitment, but 55 percent work under unfavourable conditions due to zero regulations. The issuance of licenses and creation of job centers for labourers by Government is being recommended.
Espaces de récupération des déchets solides municipaux dans la ville moyenne d'Afrique subsaharienne : Cas de Bafoussam, Cameroun
A travers le cas de Bafoussam au Cameroun, cette étude analyse les lieux et les espaces de déchets solides municipaux créés par les citadins et néo-citadins. Elle met en évidence le quotidien des récupérateurs d’ordures et leur participation dans la production de l’espace urbain africain.
Les lieux et les espaces de production, de collecte, de transport et de négociation des déchets solides municipaux se multiplient dans les espaces des villes d'Afrique subsaharienne où la croissance urbaine, associée à l'exode rural constitue un défi urbain majeur. Si plusieurs études ont traité de la gestion des déchets sur ce continent, jusqu'ici on en sait encore moins sur les villes intermédiaires alors qu'elles accueillent de plus en plus la majorité de citadins et néo-citadins. A travers le cas de Bafoussam au Cameroun, une ville de noyau urbain colonial, cette étude décrit les espaces occupés par l'ordure et met en évidence le quotidien des récupérateurs de déchets solides municipaux. De plus, les usages de l'espace urbain par des citadins selon la typologie des déchets éliminés sont analysés. Abordant l'approche théorique de la urban political ecology, cette recherche suit une méthodologie mixte basée sur des entretiens semi-structurés avec différents récupérateurs selon le type de déchets traités, ainsi que sur une observation participante du quotidien de la collecte. L'étude révèle que les citadins et néo-citadins à la quête de moyens de subsistance, participent dans la production de l'espace urbain à travers la récupération et la revalorisation des déchets. De plus, cette recherche dévoile le récit du travail des récupérateurs informels et formels impliqués dans la valorisation des ordures. Cette lecture des lieux et des espaces de déchets en ville expose la façon dont les urbains africains participent à la gestion urbaine à travers une ressource à la fois rejetée et négociée.
How does a geopolitics of the cheap trade highlight new territorial dynamics of African towns?
How does the development of the cheap trade contributes to specific territorial dynamics in African towns? A geopolitics of the streets and of marketplaces shows the conflictual production of commercial urban spaces and their inconspicuous linkages with network logics.
How does the development of the cheap trade contributes to specific territorial dynamics in African towns? Baubles from China have flooded African markets: plastic sandals, fashion accessories, cheap clothes, etc. can be found everywhere, from busy metropolitan commercial areas to small periodic markets in rural areas. The specificity of those bauble is that they are widely available and cheap; they are adapted to low income populations living in both rural and urban areas. Thus, baubles circulate extensively; flowing and connecting the centers with some margins of the world.
From a geopolitics of the cheap trade, the paper argues that the development of the bauble trade route organizes an interstitial resource-space, through the socio-spatial mobility of actors and movements of items. This interstitial resource-space provides economic opportunities which are appropriated by an intertwined maze of traders and actors holding some political and administrative powers that facilitate or complicate the connections.
This space is characterised by rural-urban, urban-rural, formal-informal and agriculture-trade interplays. It consists of booming trading places, new urban-rural mobility and unprecedented connections to transnational networks. The later combine social with professional and political networks. The paper is based on fieldworks done in Cameroon, Kenya and Tanzania, mainly in secondary towns (Bafoussam, Kisumu and Mbeya). The analysis of the daily governance of the cheap trade represents what I call "a geopolitics of the streets and of marketplaces": it shows the conflictual production of commercial urban territories (from actors from below to public policies) and their inconspicuous linkages (sometimes undisclosable) with network logics.
Moving towards the transactional city. Understanding urbanism in Southern Africa from the practices of translocal traders
Drawing on the heuristic lens of the practices of informal cross-border traders, this paper presents some issues pertaining to the role of mobility in the configuration of new, underexplored principles organizing the socio-spatial life in cities.
This paper investigates the relationship between mobility and urban space in Sub-Saharan Africa through the lens of the mukhero practice, name given to the informal trades which span Mozambican borders. Born as a traditional survival practice, the mukhero is today well-blended with global logics and has a relevant, as underestimated role in shaping spaces and urbanity. Mukheristas, i.e. the people doing the mukhero, deploy movement as a livelihood strategy to carve out space in the everyday life of the city, in so connecting heterogeneous spaces and networks across transnational distances and translocal geographies.
The paper reports the findings of a multi-situated ethnographic exploration on the tracks of mukheristas between Johannesburg and Maputo, with the aim of unveiling the socio-spatial agency implicit in their practices. Mobility makes space. Through the 'mukhero prism' the paper presents some first reflections on how mobility actually makes city in the African urban context. Being it inextricably bound up with other spatialities and a fundamental 'source of capital', it is useful to unveil and interpret new organizing principles of the African urban life.
The Liminal City: Gender, Mobility and Governance in a Twenty-first Century African City
This paper explores the everyday lives of migrant women living in inner-city Johannesburg as refugees and economic migrants. Through the twin frames of informality and mobility, it shows how they disrupt common understandings of governance and informality in Johannesburg.
This paper uses empirical data, based on five years of ethnographic research on women from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe living in inner-city Johannesburg as refugees and economic migrants. Specifically, it looks to shed light on commonly used policy and theoretical concepts - urban governance and informality. It explores these concepts through the lived experiences of migrant women in Johannesburg - a population that lives in the city's interstices - 'between and betwixt' a romanticized past and an imagined future elsewhere. In this limbo location, women's everyday lives and relationships unveil a world that has a profound effect on the city they live in. Their lives show us how significant they are in shaping the actions of state agents, and overturning common understandings of urban governance as a state-led project. As we follow them through the city's streets, the boundaries between legality and illegality, formal and informal, official and unofficial city collapse, rendering these categories inaccurate descriptors of the city or their lives. Migrant women compel us to rethink the twin frames that have for so long shaped how we plan and govern cities: the legal versus illegal city, the formal versus informal city, the visible versus invisible city.
Post-apartheid Geographies of Translocality: Rethinking Rural-Urban Binaries
This paper considers how recognising translocality demands a reconsideration of the integrated spatial planning discourses prevalent in South Africa’s scholarly and policy discourse.
Creating an integrated post-apartheid society has been one of South Africa's developmental goals since the dawn of democracy. Overcoming the segregated spatial legacy to create a more integrated socio-economic geography has been central to this goal. Yet the past two decades have seen contestations over what an integrated geography means and the relationship between urban and rural spaces. Little has been done by both scholars and planners to adequately consider how mobility and migration are (a) central to people's lived experiences; (b) transforming social spaces; and (c) creating forms of integration and disconnection. Recognising this not only challenges the state's predominantly unidirectional understanding of migration, but also the prevalent "urban planning" ideals that dominate the planning discourse. This mode of thinking has focused largely on the development of urban space, neglecting rural areas and thus the translocal nature of contemporary lives. Through an assessment of the Reconstruction and Development Programme' (RDP) and the Growth, Employment and Redistribution's (GEAR) housing policies, this paper argues that the focus on rural-urban dualism and the neglect of broader migration patterns have led to the planning and implementation of projects that undermine the broader post-apartheid socio-economic project.
Informal Grassroots Networks - Rescaling their Translocal Practices in Africa
The paper looks at local-global activism in the realm of housing taking ‘Shack/Slum Dwellers International’ (SDI) in South Africa as a case in point. Focus will be given to emerging rescaling of practices by these transnational grassroots networks and the meaning for housing and urban research in Africa.
The paper looks at local-global activism as a new phenomenon in the realm of housing based on a research project, which included empirical studies in South Africa. The focus will be on the activities of 'Shack/Slum Dwellers International' (SDI) in South Africa, an alliance between local federations and national support NGOs. The SDI model has been studied in terms of their practices such as enumerations, savings, exchanges and relations to the state and international agencies. Here, focus will be given to emerging rescaling of practices by the transnational grassroots network namely on three levels: 1) the organisational shift from membership to settlement-wide representation, 2) the change in their objectives from single projects to city-wide programs and, 3) finally the shift from transnational exchanges to foster regional clusters. The core question raised is how can we conceptualize evolutions of transnational grassroots practice and the meaning for housing and urban research in Africa?
Herrle, P.; Ley, A.; Fokdal, J. (eds.) (2015): From Local Action to Global Networks. Housing the Urban Poor. Ashgate: Farnham (UK) and Burlington (USA).
Residential mobility between pericentral and peripheral neighbourhoods of Maputo: processes and spatial configuration
Maputo’s (in)formal transformation in the current neoliberal context relates to its inhabitants’ residential mobility, observable between pericentral and peripheral neighbourhoods. This paper explores these dynamics and their spatial configuration according to the socio-economic groups on the move.
Maputo's urban transformation is marked by a dynamic interrelation between more informal and formal practices of urban planning and development, increasingly influenced by a market logic of space production in the current neoliberal context (Jorge, 2017; Melo, 2015). Space availability, land value, different ways of living and different perceptions about the city are some of the aspects which play an important role in the inhabitants' residential mobility, according to their socio-economic background and origins.
The pericentral self-produced neighbourhoods and the more peripheral ones, some of which were object of official land demarcations, exemplify different urban spaces marked by this residential mobility. The strategically located pericentral neighbourhoods are attractive to capital investments and new residents and, simultaneously, spaces of population outflow, due to gentrification processes, under the market logic or not. In turn, the most peripheral ones are mainly reception areas for population coming from various locations, including the pericentral neighbourhoods. The paper explores the processes that promote the residential mobility between these two large areas of the Mozambican capital, as well as how they are materialized in the urban space, taking into account the different socio-economic groups who move between them.
MELO, Vanessa (2015). The recent production of urban African peripheries. Discourses, practices and spatial configuration: Maputo versus Luanda and Johannesburg. PhD thesis on urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon.
Jorge, Sílvia (2017). Interdicted Places. The pericentral selfproduced neighbourhoods of Maputo. PhD thesis on urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon [submited and waiting for examination].
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.