The dream and the ordinary: an ethnographic investigation of suburbanisation in Luanda

Chloé Buire (2014). The Dream and the Ordinary: An Ethnographic Investigation of Suburbanisation in Luanda. African Studies (Published online: 10 Jun 2014)

After 27 years of civil war, Angola entered the 21st century as one of the most dynamic economies in the world. In a context of ‘infrastructures for resources’ policy, Luanda, its capital city, has been the first beneficiary of a veritable boom in the construction sector. This article explores the production of new housing patterns in the periphery of the city through the study of two housing projects located more than 20 kilometres from the central business district. Panguila is a relocation settlement for impoverished people evicted from the city centre; Kilamba City is marketed as a ‘New Centrality’ aimed at the emerging middle class. While of incommensurable scale and quality, both settlements illustrate the contradictions of the new forms of suburbanism produced in Luanda nowadays. Built on ethnographic material, the article reads the aspirations of Panguila and Kilamba City inhabitants against the official view on these settlements propounded by the National Reconstruction Programme. It shows that individual dreams of home ownership meet top-down attempts to discipline urban behaviours, while demonstrating that neither is reconciled with the pragmatism of practices on the ground. The article eventually suggests that new suburbs in Luanda represent less a rupture with previous urban patterns than they continue the production of a certain socio-spatial order.


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher African Studies
Year 2014
Author(s) Chloé Buire
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