Uncertain times, contested resources: Discursive practices and lived realities in African urban environments

David Simon in City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. Volume 19, Issue 2-3, 2015.

Amid the diversity of African urbanism, most cities retain strong vestiges of inherited urban planning systems largely inappropriate to prevailing local conditions. Even where largely ignored in practice, they can be suddenly redeployed in the interests of elite projects—either specific construction sites and inappropriate new ‘international’ or ‘world class’ enclaves, or broader repressive political agendas. Such episodes, but also less dramatic daily practices, highlight the gulfs between elite perceptions and priorities and the needs of often impoverished ‘ordinary’ citizens whose grip on urban environmental resources and services is frequently precarious, but essential. The implications of environmental/climate changes, which are becoming increasingly real in many urban areas, are also examined in this light. Drawing on both political economy and post-structural/postcolonial approaches in search of hybridised theoretical progress, the paper explores how elite preoccupations and interests confront the diverse and often culturally rich lived realities of the urban majorities and their respective contingent senses of identity and belonging. The former remain framed by discourses of modernity expressed in terms of segregated land uses, aesthetics and ‘order’, whereas the latter generally relate to more mundane instrumentalities of shelter, basic services and survival/livelihood strategies in complex social realities, sometimes giving rise to syncretic or novel alternative cultures.

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Details

Publication Type Journal
Publisher City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action
Year 2015
Author(s) David Simon
DOI 10.1080/13604813.2015.1018060
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One Response to “Uncertain times, contested resources: Discursive practices and lived realities in African urban environments”

  1. Uncertain times, contested resources: Discursiv...

    […] Most African cities retain strong vestiges of inherited urban planning systems largely inappropriate to prevailing local conditions. This paper explores how elite preoccupations and interests confront the diverse lived realities of the urban majorities and their respective senses of identity and belonging.  […]

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