Nachwuchsgruppe: Dis-ordering African cites: urban planning, housing and infrastructures from above and below in Dakar and Nairobi

Urbanization is a key driver and effect of spatial, social and environmental transitions in the 21st century.  Socio-spatial transformations induced by urbanization become particularly apparent in Africa, a continent where urbanization rates exceed those of Latin America and Asia and which has been drastically transformed within just five decades. African urbanization has often been dismissed as problematic, as a process induced by poverty and de-coupled from economic growth and industrialization. Consequently, research on African urbanization regularly focuses on the deficits of these processes such as abject poverty, social fragmentation and inequality and ecological problems. African urbanization, as well as urban planning methods, practice and education since colonial times have strongly been influenced by circulating ideals of urban order, according to which state agencies are to control urban development and to provide basic services such as water, electricity and housing to a passive population. However, various place-specific practices and institutions transform and hybridize these ideals, so that urbanization dynamics, built spaces and patterns of service provision in African cities reach far beyond circulating visions of orderly urbanization and of the role of the state and society as provided in formal urban plans and strategies. In fact, “self-service cities” emerge, where urban residents and private as well as communal service providers negotiate the provision of housing and basic infrastructures through self-organization. Respective practices are not isolated from state institutions, but they are closely intertwined with each other in creative, cooperative, competitive and also destructive ways.

This research project directs the focus away from the lack and deficiencies of top-down coordination in many African cities towards the diverse practices of actors re-producing urban space within and far beyond formal planning. With an initial focus on urban housing, the project’s research aims are 1) to understand the role of ideals and practices of order for housing provision; 2) to explain multiple ordering practices in housing provision in Nairobi and Dakar; 3) to assess urban planning and governance concerning the way they address these practices.

Projektlaufzeit: April 2016 bis März 2018
Leiterin Nachwuchsgruppe: Dr. Sophie Schramm


Dr. Sophie Schramm

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