Alternative conceptions of planning and their relevance for Sub-Saharan cities: case study of Maputo

Dates: 14 - 14 July 2014


Where: Centro de Informação Urbana de Lisboa, Picoas Plaza, Lisbon, Portugal.

This talk draws on long term research on urban physical development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and draws on engagement by the author with urban issues in Mozambique, and Maputo in particular.  It argues for an approach to urban land rights, management and planning that is based on understanding of both a) the realpolitik of urban land in the region as well as b) the mental models and organizational practices of so-called ‘informal’ land access mechanisms.

Professor Jenkins argues that urban land in Sub-Saharan Africa has been used primarily for elite group benefit from the pre-colonial period all through the colonial period, with different forms of control of access. Many of these, however have been based on, or have included, forms of social redistribution, to underpin elite hegemony. In the post-colonial period controls of access to urban land were relaxed in practice although many ruling elites established an anti-urban bias in development, which is arguably just a different form of the same approach. In recent years mechanisms to control urban land access are currently being re-instated, which the chapter argues primarily benefit elite groups. This is related to the interests of international capital as well as changing class structure. Will these new developments mean a radical change in approach to urban land access, or is it just a transition period to another manifestation of negotiated power balance?

Paul Jenkins is an architect, planner and social researcher who has worked on a wide range of aspects in the built environment: architecture, construction, housing, planning and urban studies. More than half of his four decade career has been based in Central and Southern Africa (Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Angola and especially Mozambique). Most recently he was Professor for Architecture Research at the Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture (University of Edinburgh) and Professor of Human Settlements at the School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo; the University of Sao Paulo; as well as the School of Architecture & Planning at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). He took over as Head of School of Architecture & Planning at Wits in September 2013. His current research focuses on the nature of knowledge and the role of socio-cultural values in architecture and urban development, challenging dominant conceptions of the “modern”.

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