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.
move from a concern with ‘seeing like a state’ to ‘seeinglikeacity’, as Magnusson ( 2011 ) argues. Before moving to consider the application of this lens to discussions of sanctuary, migration, and refugee rights, I first outline its key contours as a way of exploring the complexities of governing mobility.
In putting forward ‘the politics of urbanism’, Magnusson ( 2011 : 2) argues that our political tendency is to ‘see like a state’ after James C. Scott, and thus to ‘imagine things from the viewpoint of a sovereign government or a
, demonstrating a more complex approach
than that taken by the Royal Commission. Here the socio-legal ideas of Mariana
Valverde might be useful: Valverde takes Scott’s idea of ‘seeing like a state’,
and suggests that we might also consider ‘seeinglikeacity’, a mode of vision
in which, at the local level, older techniques of administration often persist or
reappear alongside newer ones within modern contexts, and the ‘state simplifications’ that Scott identifies are tempered with more pragmatic and relational
approaches.94 Valverde’s ideas help to explain the long history of
to offer alternative political narratives. The move from a centralised governmental form associated with the modern state, to the fragmented and decentred governmentality of urban authorities that demand compromise, contingency, and incomplete claims to authority – a move that Magnusson ( 2011 ) typifies as a shift from ‘seeing like a state’ to ‘seeinglikeacity’ – is indicative of this analytical framing (see also Amin and Thrift, 2016 ). Indeed, a focus on epistemological practices of apprehending the world is important because it illustrates that a growing
Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential
post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers
and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see
the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how
quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words
to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the
chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the
passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a
laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for
a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that
we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.
Sarah Butler and Paul Dobraszczyk
It is your foot placed on the cold concrete ground,
But how many others have begun that pattern?
There must be a beginning to our past.
But how far back do you have to go to find the first single
You can visualise the fraction of bare lane before your eyes,
who knows what happened here a million years before,
But then a single building of a life is there.
This is the start of a first memory of our city a million
But now as the city grows stronger there are more
. Thrift, SeeinglikeaCity (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2017).
10 We are not the first to use the term spatial contract, and while we differ significantly in terms of what we mean, there are some key connections to other uses. In a series of publications, the geographer, film-maker and activist Antonis Vradis uses the term to refer to an informal political agreement, in the tradition of the social contract. But his spatial contract is a very specific understanding in post-dictatorship Athens to allow ‘a certain level of rioting and other forms of
Assumes that either a formal or informal arrangement is inherently better at provisioning freedom
1 E. W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989).
2 Amin and Thrift, SeeinglikeaCity ; Simone and Pieterse, New Urban Worlds , p. 190.
3 This is even more true as we increasingly realize how a very narrow set of experiences during a narrow historical window (the nineteenth
Urban transformation and public health in future cities
Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos
MIT Moral Machine, http://moralmachine.mit.edu (last accessed 1 November 2019).
Allen , P. ( 2016 ). The co-evolving complexity of cities: Towards sustainability . DACAS Summer School, Manchester, online video, www.complexurban.com/video/183/ (last accessed 1 November 2019).
Amin , A. , and Thrift , N. ( 2017 ). Seeinglikeacity . Cambridge and Malden, MA : Polity Press .
Appadurai , A. ( 1988 ). The social life of things: Commodities in cultural perspective . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press .
Berge , E. , Cole
Urban presence and uncertain futures in African cities
Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos
Complex systems logic demonstrates why seeinglikeacity demands recognition of geographical specificity and path-dependent social settlement, opening contextual opportunities of place that render bespoke local city ‘clumsy’ solutions to ‘wicked’ urban problems more plausible. Cities of the global south have the potential to leapfrog the twentieth-century lock-ins of car-based urbanism and wasteful city metabolisms of water and waste. But equally, different histories of colonialism and systemic underdevelopment weigh heavily in