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Open Access (free)
Urban presence and uncertain futures in African cities
Michael Keith
and
Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos

In the context of urban Africa, how can we ‘see like a city’ and yet account for the different legacies of colonialism, inequality and social change across the region? This is a discussion that encompasses both local experiences as well as shared postcolonial theories of planned modernisation. Particularities about a place’s history and demographics also call for an analysis of how exceptionalities are responses to pressing global contexts. By combining specific discussions on African cities with a global overview on key issues including waste, energy transition, security and risk governance, we break the conventional polarisation between seeing ‘from within’ or ‘from afar’. The scholarship we present showcases the perspectives of scholars based in Africa and the UK, offering an alternative framing through collaboration and shared research. The data analysed and represented is also interpreted and translated, speaking through a variety of personal and scientific dispositions that appear throughout this volume. In particular, we use infrastructure – in its various intersections of place, people and power – to discuss the philosophy and postcolonial theories around becoming and being a city.

in African cities and collaborative futures
Open Access (free)
The bridge, the fund and insurance in Dar es Salaam
Irmelin Joelsson

This chapter conceptualises the broad scope of repertoires manoeuvring economic governance through anticipation as ‘popular insurance’ by exploring hedging strategies in Dar es Salaam, a city where access to social security is highly constrained, public goods are scarce, yet insurance is brokered. Drawing on eighteen months of fieldwork, including three months interning with a Tanzanian social insurance fund, the chapter suggests a tripartite relational model for exploring the ways in which the infrastructures of a bridge in central Dar es Salaam interface with the financial infrastructures of the ‘modernising’ nascent welfare state, mediated by the cultural calculation of risk. By doing so the chapter shows that insurance is a practised infrastructure enacted by different actors in the city, where the notion of risk might have multiple meanings and be negotiated on different levels and timescales.

in African cities and collaborative futures
The politics of value and valuation in South Africa’s urban waste sector
Henrik Ernstson
,
Mary Lawhon
,
Anesu Makina
,
Nate Millington
,
Kathleen Stokes
, and
Erik Swyngedouw

This chapter is a summary of research into different types of waste interventions in South Africa. The neoliberalisation of the South African state, the widening socio-ecological polarisation and the discursive emphasis on pursuing a more socially inclusive and ecologically benign development trajectory turn the South African case into an emblematic example of urban waste transition. The examination of interventions in the urban metabolic waste stream provides a lens through which to capture some of the key processes, contradictions and transformations. The chapter describes the dynamic institutional, technical, social and political-ecological landscape of waste management in South Africa and how this in turn is shaping the practices by which waste is transformed into economic and social value, who is allowed to claim such benefits, and what makes for successful claims. The empirical work is based on investigations into 1) the technologisation of waste management, 2) the differential impacts of the internationalisation of waste management finance and 3) initiatives that emphasise collaborative governance and community participation and awareness as means of improving waste management.

in African cities and collaborative futures
Mark Pelling
,
Alejandro Barcena
,
Hayley Leck
,
Ibidun Adelekan
,
David Dodman
,
Hamadou Issaka
,
Cassidy Johnson
,
Mtafu Manda
,
Blessing Mberu
,
Ezebunwa Nwokocha
,
Emmanuel Osuteye
, and
Soumana Boubacar

Risk-sensitive urban development is required to reduce accumulated risk and to better consider risk when planning new developments. To deliver a sustainable city for all requires a more frank and comprehensive focus on procedure: on who makes decisions, under which frameworks, based upon what kind of data or knowledge, and with what degree and direction of accountability. Acting on these procedural questions is the promise of transformative urban development. This chapter explores the status of risk-sensitive and transformative urban development and the scope for transition towards these components of sustainability in urban sub-Saharan Africa through the lens of diverse city cases: Karonga (Malawi), Ibadan (Nigeria), Niamey (Niger) and Nairobi (Kenya). A common analytical framework is presented to help identify blockages and opportunities for transition towards a risk-sensitive and transformative urban development. This framework is then illustrated through each city in turn; a concluding discussion reflects on city observations to draw out recommendations for city-level and wider action and research partnerships.

in African cities and collaborative futures
The political aesthetics of boundaries and crossings

This interdisciplinary volume explores the role of images and representation in different borderscapes. It provides fresh insight into the ways in which borders, borderscapes and migration are imagined and narrated by offering new ways to approach the political aesthetics of the border. The case studies in the volume contribute to the methodological renewal of border studies and present ways of discussing cultural representations of borders and related processes. The case studies address the role of borders in narrative and images in literary texts, political and popular imagery, surveillance data, video art and survivor testimonies in a highly comparative range of geographical contexts ranging from northern Europe, via Mediterranean and Mexican–US borderlands to Chinese borderlands. The disciplinary approaches include critical theory, literary studies, social anthropology, media studies and political geography. The volume argues that borderlands and border-crossings (such as those by migrants) are present in public discourse and more private, everyday experience. This volume addresses their mediation through various stories, photographs, films and other forms. It suggests that narratives and images are part of the borderscapes in which border-crossings and bordering processes take place, contributing to the negotiation of borders in the public sphere. As the case studies show, narratives and images enable identifying various top-down and bottom-up discourses to be heard and make visible different minority groups and constituencies.

Abstract only
The topos of/for a post-politics of images?
Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary

The chapter addresses the recent proliferation of border-related visual art and the problem of resisting political power in particular. Border art is a medium that is both aesthetic and political, addressing through images the processes of de/bordering and borderscapes, as well as its potential for making visible and even subverting experiences and expectations related to the border. The chapter reviews critically several instances of border art from Europe to the United States and Canada (e.g., by Adrien Missika and Dennis Oppenheim), showing that in contemporary border art borders are a topos, that is, the anchor point of a multidimensional message. In so doing, it also highlights the links between the different aesthetic productions at the borders at the global level. The chapter claims that there is a new need to reflect on the relationship between aesthetics and politics, should an understanding of border art as a form of ‘alternative spatiality’ offering potential for subversion and critique be aimed at. What are shown as powerful ways of promoting non-consensual understandings of borders in the visual arts are works that critique the medium, not only border politics, or are non-representational.

in Border images, border narratives
Images of the ‘Jungle’ in Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes
Jopi Nyman

This chapter examines the representation of forced migration in the recent short story collection Breach (2016) by the Nigerian German writer Olumide Popoola and the Southern African author Annie Holmes. Focusing on fictional narratives telling of forced migrants travelling towards and inhabiting the originally temporary and notorious refugee camp known as the ‘Jungle’ on the outskirts of Calais, France, the collection addresses migration to Europe and Britain as part of contemporary global mobility. In addition to charactering the fictional space as a borderscape where identities are formed and negotiated, the chapter goes beyond a thematic analysis to suggest that the form of the collection, the short story composite, is a way of narrating the borderscape since it both unites the stories, functioning as the site where cultural encounters charactering its various migrant–host encounters take place, but also underlines the characters’ diverse affiliations and transforming identities, their belongings and becomings, unique to each story and individual. By challenging acts of bordering and refusing to fix the identities of the subjects narrated, Breach shows that the borderscape is full of ambiguity and precariousness, but it may also offer glimpses of a better future and a sense of community.

in Border images, border narratives
Abstract only
Imagin(in)g the materiality of digital networks
Holger Pötzsch

This chapter examines the problem of territoriality and borders in the digital age through an investigation of the materiality of data clouds as well as their artistic representation by the US artist and activist Trevor Paglen. Starting from the ambiguity of the idea of capturing clouds, the chapter addresses social and political implications of the increasingly ubiquitous technology of cloud computing. What and how do data clouds capture? Are these clouds themselves captured both in physical infrastructure, ownership, state conduct and through artistic responses to their inherent dynamics? Following Amoore’s distinction between two different geographies of data clouds, the chapter addresses issues of territoriality, power and digital borders by asking where the capturing clouds behind the US National Security Agency (NSA) bulk surveillance materialise, and where such clouds fundamentally challenge spatial notions of state sovereignty and borders. Through an analysis of the artworks of the US photographer and activist Trevor Paglen that visualise the materiality of NSA surveillance, the chapter shows that Paglen reconnects the apparently fluid and ephemeral nature of digital technology and surveillance with its often classified material and institutional basis.

in Border images, border narratives
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Border images and narratives: paradoxes, spheres, aesthetics
Johan Schimanski
and
Jopi Nyman

This chapter written by the editors examines how the individual contributions to this volume answer the book’s three basic questions about different aesthetic strategies, how they enable crossings from private experience into the public sphere, and the various paradoxes they involve. The ways in which they answer these questions connect the different chapters with each other. Here the editors also suggest possible ways forward for future research, or themes that need a closer focus. It is argued that, in addition to the need to broaden the focus to other forms of aesthetic experience than those prototypically characterised as ‘images’ and ‘narratives’, it is crucial to examine in more detail how border images and narratives act in the world, focus on the temporalities of such images and narratives, and also explore their emotional dimensions.

in Border images, border narratives
Ethnic minorities and localities in China’s border encounters with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam
Victor Konrad
and
Zhiding Hu

This chapter focuses on China’s encounters and negotiations across its borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam where cross-border interaction and enhanced mobility play an increasingly more important role. It shows how narratives and imaginaries of border crossings and processes contribute to border negotiation in the public sphere, and, particularly, how these aesthetic forms deliver a range of top-down and bottom-up discourses among national interests and a richly intertwined tapestry of minorities in the region. On the basis of field research in the localities of Ruili, Kokang and Dalou/Mongla along the China–Myanmar border, the China–Laos border at Mohan/Boten and the China–Myanmar border at Hekou, it is shown how images and narratives of borders and borderlands function differently at different levels of discourse in the public sphere, but also that border space allows these diverse discourses to co-exist, particularly if the border space accommodates plural cultural memories. Making visible and giving voice through border images and narratives empowers minority constituencies, as long as the local images and narratives do not eclipse the national discourse. The border functions as a catalyst for mediating and merging of various border narratives as well as negotiations in the border space.

in Border images, border narratives