(Street)Markets, Malls, and 'Exhibitions': Commerce and the transformation of African urban space
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2017 at 09:00
This panel examines the spatial forms underpinning transformations of trade in Africa, tracing the socio-economic impacts of (street) markets, shopping malls and other places of trade. It focuses on public and private spaces, highlighting the dynamic relationship between urban Africa and trade.
Throughout Africa space is being transformed through commerce. Public marketplaces are swallowed by private shopping malls, while informal traders make marketplaces of almost every street and underpass. Place is not just a backdrop for trade, but a constitutive part of it, as certain spatial forms mould the practise of trade. For example, in the Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh, 'Somali' shopping centres developed into a blueprint of doing business in East Africa, with the subdivision of existing space into tiny shops, sometimes only as big as a table. This blueprint was taken up around the region, sometimes under the name 'exhibition', and made shopkeepers of many.
The different spatial forms comprise different patterns and logics of trade, different types of goods being sold, and different levels of inclusion and exclusion. While open air markets are public places accessible to all, Western style shopping malls keep out "undesirables" such as the urban poor, homeless or street children. "Marts of low-end globalization" (Mathews 2011, 20) such as the 'Somali' shopping centres in Eastleigh are situated in between these two models, as they are privately owned, but still open to all, offering cheap goods from China and elsewhere. These spaces are not just spaces of trade, but also places where wider social connections are made: places of trade are always places of sociality. This panel intends to put such spatial transformations of African trade into a comparative perspective and is open to papers on all forms of African commercial space and its socio-economic effects.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Dialectic of the spaces for Street Traders in Lagos
Patterns of economic activities are underpinned by space. In urban Africa, there are noticeable disparities between spaces being provided for trade, and actual places where the bulk of trading activities tend to occur. This dialectic is explored from a morphological perspective in this paper.
The dynamics of trade are being reconfigured in contemporary urban Africa relative to globalisation, however space still plays an important role in facilitating trading transactions - as these are still conducted predominantly through physical interactions. Spaces where trading prospers, tend to be located where optimal interactions between potential customers and traders are afforded. This has encouraged "informal" appropriations of both public and private spaces which exhibit centrality, and the resultant intensification of activities often results in contestations. Relocations to alternative trading spaces are in some cases conducted to resolve this conundrum, but uptake by traders is typically low due to shortcomings at these new sites in providing equitable spatial properties derived from their former locations.
Set within the paradigms of Dobson, Skinner and Nicholson's (2009); and Bromley and Mackie (2009) works; this paper explores a mosaic of trading spaces in Lagos, to unbundle how the spatial configurations of their domains influence the activity patterns and logics of traders. It explores different dynamics relative to the morphology of space, also discussing how the urban management and planning policies - which are the transformative tools employed in defining the physical configuration of urban space, has struggled to resolve street traders uses of space.
The discussions and evidence put forward aim to contribute towards informing inclusive and sustainable urban management policies for street traders.
Mupedzanhamo: Spatial Struggles and Displacements in Harare's Flea markets c.1994-2016
This article is a qualitative analysis of the spatial struggles and displacements in Harare’s flea markets between 1994 and 2016. We deploy a historical perspective to argue that the deregulation of urban spaces and ESAPs attendant growing poverty is linked to the sprouting of Mupedzanhamo, in Mbare, Harare.
This article is a qualitative analysis of the spatial struggles and displacements in Harare's flea markets between 1994 and 2016. We deploy a historical perspective to argue that the deregulation of urban spaces and ESAPs attendant growing poverty is linked to the sprouting of Mupedzanhamo, in Mbare, Harare. We demonstrate that the sprouting of flea markets between 1995 and 2005 had the tacit support of the state/municipalities which ironically viewed them as a panacea to the country's economic problems. Thus, this study is also a historical analysis of the inconsistencies in state policy from viewing them as empowerment projects to casting them as unsanitary criminal havens and aesthetically bankrupt spaces profiting from economic illegalities. We argue that this vacillation has a direct link to national politics as dominant official transcripts regarding these spaces is mainly shaped by how politicians try to win hearts and minds at particular junctures amidst grinding urban poverty. We, therefore, posit that by 2013 the way these spaces were administered was mainly along partisan basis and that there will always be conflicting versions in the conceptualization of urban (dis)order. We are, however, also making a broader comment that the urban poor are not always victims of the political and bureaucratic arrangements existing in the city but that they have managed to subvert the systems that have been mobilised by both to the state and municipalities to curve out a niche for themselves.
Neither Malls, nor Markets: Shopping complexes in Kenya.
This paper explores how shopping complexes have radically altered Kenya's commercial landscape by transforming the use of space. Based on anthropological research, it describes the evolution of Somali shopping complexes in Nairobi and Nakuru, and explores their implications for Kenyan commerce.
In the last two decades a tremendous change took place in the Kenyan retail business based on new forms of utilising commercial space. Starting in the now famous neighbourhood of Eastleigh (Nairobi), Somali traders, many of them refugees, established shopping complexes that follow a different spatial logic than the markets and shops that existed previously. These Somalis began by trading from small hotel rooms, before enterprising investors saw opportunity to transform these hotels into malls, creating a model of large buildings crammed with tiny stalls. Such shopping complexes combine elements of open air markets and Western style shopping malls. The goods sold are mainly cheap textiles, leather and electronics, imported from China, Dubai, Turkey, Thailand or Indonesia. While open-air markets are open, public places, these shopping complexes are privately owned, often with opaque chains of rights to business premises through brokers, owners, leasers and subleasers. These transformations of the usage of space emerged as much out of necessity as design, but were taken up as a role model quickly, not just in Nairobi but elsewhere in Kenya too. While the model cannot be said to have completely 'democratised' business, it has offered up opportunities to many previously excluded from shop ownership. This presentation is based on anthropological research with Somali businesspeople in Kenya.
Spatial interventions in accommodating African immigrant petty-traders around the public commercial spaces in the entrepreneurial city of Cape Town, South Africa
The paper examines the extent to which the interventions within the urban entrepreneurial governance framework of the city of Cape Town are inclusive or exclusive toward immigrants of African running business around commercial spaces. Forms of resistance and collaboration are critically analysed.
The paper interrogates the extent to which the interventions implemented in the city of Cape Town by the authorities contribute to the spatial inclusion of immigrants of African origin into the design of urban development. The contrasting experiences of business owners from Africa origin (migrants and refugees) are examined in relation with structures of urban governance and social processes of inclusion in the city. there are strong indications that some of these interventions are constraining and exclusionary. There has been however a progressive public shift toward more accommodating. The paper is informed by the theoretical perspective on entrepreneurial urban governance. In the metropolitan area of Cape Town, the occupancy of any space for trading purpose is restrained by a bundle of by-laws. Although business owners, ranging for established shops to street vendors, are found everywhere in the city most of the public spaces onto which they operate are considered illegal or, when allowed to operate as shop owners, they operate under stringent regulatory frameworks. However, positive concessions have been made by the municipality in setting aside spaces for licensed street trading. In responses to the variety of interventions, business owners have displayed different reactions ranging from compliance to subversive acts including resistance or negotiated arrangements have been at time used to influence the direction of other interventions. They have managed to exert influence over the direction of specific policies or interventions. The negotiation of new forms of power which manifests itself in the daily lives of actors involved in the process of socio-spatial changes affecting the city.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.