Urban platforms and metropolitan logistics

African cities and collaborative futures: Urban platforms and metropolitan logistics brings together scholars from across the globe to discuss the nature of African cities – the interactions of residents with infrastructure, energy, housing, safety and sustainability, seen through local narratives and theories. This groundbreaking collection, drawing on a variety of fields and extensive first-hand research, offers a fresh perspective on some of the most pressing issues confronting urban Africa in the twenty-first century. Each of the chapters, using case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania, explores how the rapid growth of African cities is reconfiguring the relationship between urban social life and its built forms. While the most visible transformations in cities today can be seen as infrastructural, these manifestations are cultural as well as material, reflecting the different ways in which the city is rationalised, economised and governed. How can we ‘see like a city’ in twenty-first-century Africa, understanding the urban present to shape its future? This is the central question posed throughout this volume, with a practical focus on how academics, local decision-makers and international practitioners can work together to achieve better outcomes.

Open Access (free)
Situating peripheries research in South Africa and Ethiopia
Paula Meth, Alison Todes, Sarah Charlton, Tatenda Mukwedeya, Jennifer Houghton, Tom Goodfellow, Metadel Sileshi Belihu, Zhengli Huang, Divine Mawuli Asafo, Sibongile Buthelezi, and Fikile Masikane

This chapter examines the operationalising of research focused on understanding how transformation in the spatial peripheries of South African cities and an Ethiopian city is shaped, governed and experienced. We discuss both intellectual and methodological challenges and insights of undertaking the research which has at its core a desire to understand the dynamics and drivers of change and the ‘lived experiences’ of residents living on the peripheries of cities, using a mixed qualitative methods approach. We reflect upon and propose conceptualisations concerning terms such as periphery, ‘drivers of change’ and what or whose lived experiences are captured or can be known. In doing so we point to preliminary findings and consider issues of comparability and differentials in data depth and coverage. The chapter concludes by highlighting the richness of researching the peripheries.

in African cities and collaborative futures
Food and clothing
Carey Fleiner

This chapter discusses fashion and clothing in the Roman Empire across the different social classes: men from the poorest rank to Senatorial class, slaves, and freedmen. Women’s fashions are more complicated as they changed more (especially in the imperial period), so there will be a discussion of clothing styles, hair styles, and jewellery of free women, slaves, and prostitutes. Sumptuary laws are also discussed. How clothing was made, what the fabrics were, particular accessories that are indicators of status and age are discussed. Food and drink were also indicative of social class and rank; this chapter considers the basic foodstuffs from the humblest table to the extravagances of dinner parties and festive occasions. Typical menus for meals across the classes are discussed including the typical sorts of meats, vegetables, and beverages one could expect in everyday meals, table manners and customs in the different social classes.

in A writer’s guide to Ancient Rome
Open Access (free)
Learning from communities in informal settlements in Durban, South Africa
Maria Christina Georgiadou and Claudia Loggia

In South Africa, over half the population live in urban centres, with one in five households living in informal settlements. Such unplanned settlements form a major challenge in the urban landscape, exacerbating issues related to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, housing and poor living conditions. This chapter investigates various interpretations of self-help approaches, as the term is understood in different ways by informal dwellers, community organisations and external stakeholders, using experiences and lessons learned from good available practice in the Durban metropolitan area. Community participation through co-production strategies and participatory action research methods are used to understand the level of community empowerment and sense of local ownership. The concept of self-building is analysed in terms of identifying key success factors for supporting self-help activities by local government and community support organisations. The study also explores issues related to the project management of a community-led upgrading project, including the role of stakeholder management, procurement and project governance. Empirical data is gathered in the form of semi-structured interviews, observations and focus groups with community leaders, non-governmental organisations, municipal officers and industry practitioners. The research aims to build capacity in local communities seeking to improve their living conditions and assist local authorities in enhancing their planning mechanisms.

in African cities and collaborative futures
Inclusive urban energy transformations in spaces of urban inequality
Federico Caprotti, Jon Phillips, Saska Petrova, Stefan Bouzarovski, Stephen Essex, Jiska de Groot, Lucy Baker, Yachika Reddy, and Peta Wolpe

In this chapter, we discuss the key issue of how to envisage a just, fair and equitable energy transformation in the South African context. We argue that the move towards a new energy landscape cannot simply be described as a transition, but more accurately (in light of the need to involve multiple scales and actors, and to manage complex development outcomes) as a societal transformation. We also ask the key question of what a just and equitable transformation might look like in the context of South Africa in 2030. The chapter was co-written by scholars with multiple theoretical perspectives and backgrounds, and by practitioners at Sustainable Energy Africa, a Cape Town-based organisation centrally involved in promoting urban energy transformations that are both low carbon and equitable.

in African cities and collaborative futures
Open Access (free)
From an ‘infrastructural turn’ to the platform logics of logistics
Michael Keith and Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos

The conclusion of the volume considers ways in which the collection speaks to the future of urban studies globally as well as the particular challenges of African cities. It suggests that the chapters in the volume share a disposition that supports ‘translational research’ that advances urban studies from a concern with the powers of infrastructures of the city to a complementary but alternative focus on the architecture of the platform economies they configure and the logistics through which cities themselves manage to function in even the most challenging circumstances. While the introduction focused on the fashion in which different forms of disciplinary expertise and science ‘lands’ in the African city, the conclusion addresses the ways in which the work of the contributors to this volume speaks to forms of global governance and international city networks, claims made in the name of the Anthropocene understanding of the urban system at planetary scale, the dynamics of climate change and the contours of global political economy. The conclusion draws on the work of anthropologist Jane Guyer to highlight the need to combine a sense of the path dependencies of urban form (their legacies), the structures of scientific knowledges that make the workings of cities visible (their logics) and the forms of infrastructural combinations that lubricate their working (their logistics).

in African cities and collaborative futures
Abstract only
Valerie Bryson
in The futures of feminism
Abstract only
Fishing for answers
Myra Seaman

The book concludes by considering the interpretive influence of the images throughout MS Ashmole 61, repeated pictures of fish and flowers. Through this, the book argues that such patterns across the manuscript offer an additional prod to interpretation that requires recognition of agential objects from across the medieval household.

in Objects of affection
Author: Valerie Bryson

This book makes the case for an inclusive form of socialist feminism that will benefit both individuals and societies, and that puts multiply disadvantaged women at its heart. It argues that developing a feminist vocabulary is a key part of feminist politics, and it demystifies some key terms, including patriarchy and intersectionality. The book’s longest chapter engages with fierce disputes between some feminists and some trans women, and suggests possible compromises and ways forward. It argues throughout that the analysis of gender cannot be isolated from that of class or race, that patriarchy is inexorably entangled with capitalism, and that the needs of most women will not be met in an economy based on the pursuit of profit. In making these arguments, it explains why capitalism is not meeting human needs and it highlights the flaws in the ideologies that sustain it; it also shows how the assumptions of neoliberalism are incompatible with anything other than a narrow, elitist form of feminism that has little relevance for most women. Throughout, the book asserts the social, economic and human importance of the unpaid caring and domestic work that has been traditionally done by women, and the need to redistribute this and value it properly. It concludes that the combination of some policy trends, the increased presence of feminists in positions of influence and a rise in all kinds of grassroots activism give grounds for optimism about a future that could be both more feminist and more socialist.

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A dry word that can make a lot of sense
Valerie Bryson

This chapter addresses fierce disputes between some feminists and some trans women and their supporters. It draws on feminist critiques of binary oppositional thinking to explore some of the complexities of trans politics, and to explore commonalities as well as differences between apparently opposing groups. Its final sections address a number of practical issues, including whether trans women have a right to access women-only spaces, to compete against cis women in sports, or to be included in measures (such as all-women shortlists) designed to counter discrimination against women. The chapter seeks to move beyond heated disagreements, and it argues that cis and trans feminists should focus their energies on the interests they have in common, rather than on fighting each other. It concludes by suggesting that sex should no longer be the basis of our legal identity.

in The futures of feminism