From shacks to skyscrapers: Multiple spatial rationalities and urban transformation in Accra, Ghana

Recent studies indicate that market-driven logics increasingly inform the governing of African cities. This paper explores this claim by analysing the spatial rationalities at work in the struggle over urban space in Accra, Ghana. Based on an in-depth case study of a state-led displacement of a marginalised informal settlement in central Accra that took place in September 2014, the paper demonstrates that the on-going urban transformation of this city must be understood as an outcome of multiple spatial rationalities rooted in the local urban history but also influenced by globally circulating urban ideals. While a market-driven rationality is clearly present in the state’s justification of the eviction, also ‘generative’ and ‘dispositional’ rationalities are used to legitimise this urban intervention.

The paper further illustrates the conflicting rationalities between the state and the urban poor, emphasising how the former residents of the displaced settlement perceive of their former home as a place of opportunities in terms of livelihood strategies, sociability and affordable housing in contrast to the state’s problematisation of the area.

Article available from Urban Forum, pp 465-486, 2016, Vol 27, 9 November 2016.

Image: Mike Norton, Flickr


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Urban Forum
Year 2016
Author(s) Lena Fält
Read older posts from this section

Leave a Reply