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jeu. 15 sept.



Africa’s Urban Futures

International Conference co-organized by the University of Geneva and the Swiss Society for African Studies

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Africa’s Urban Futures
Africa’s Urban Futures

Heure et lieu

15 sept. 2022, 10:00 – 16 sept. 2022, 19:30

Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland

À propos de l'événement

Prof. Armelle Choplin, Prof. Didier Péclard, Dr. Stéphanie Perazzone and Higor Carvalho (PhD candidate) co-organised an international conference entitled « Africa’s Urban Futures » which took place at the University of Geneva on September 15-16th 2022.  The event was organized with the support of the Swiss African Studies Association, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the University of Geneva and was part of a serie of seminars and conferences hosted by the Africa Geneva Lab.

The conference began with a live-streamed keynote speech by Prof. Jennifer Robinson, Department of Geography University College London.  Her intervention is a continuation of previous work on a necessity to de-centralize and de-westernize urban studies. You can find this carte blanche here.

The event gathered over 50 participants and attendees, opened up discussions on the challenges and potentials of new and emerging ‘urban formations’ across the African continent, and showcased the works of academics, practitioners and film-makers.

The conference was structured around three main themes:

  1. The government of urban spaces Research on state formation and urban centres in Africa has long been dominated by normative perspectives. Both tended to be analysed not for what they are or have become, but for what they purportedly “fail” to be in comparison to their counterparts in the Global North. These perspectives, which focus on states and cities in Africa as “weak”, “disorderly”, “fragile” or “chaotic” have come under increasing criticism thanks to a focus on day-to-day governance practices, relations and structures. Cities are indeed critical spaces for processes of state formation, where state and non-state actors contribute to the government of everyday lives, providing thereof new insight on alternative forms of social organization, government and resistance.
  2. Urban (Afri)capitalisms  One of the most spectacular changes in African cities over the past 20 years has been the influx of new investments. This trend, which has been sustained by two decades of rapid economic growth, is especially manifest in the creation of new satellite cities built on the outskirts of capital cities. These new urban centres are generally presented as the continent’s urban future: Think of Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, Diaminadio in Dakar, Luanda-Sul in Angola. In this panel we will look at different elements of these investments: their origin, what they mean in terms of urban development, how they are perceived and appropriated on the ground, how the emergence of new urban centres changes the value of land and the dynamics of land ownership in and around them.
  3. Imagining Africa’s urban futures  The material transformations of African cities are also the expression of new globalised or globalising imaginaries (Afropolitanism, Afrofuturism, Blackness) that should be questioned, as they suggest that the African city can also be a space for dreaming and reinventing other futures. This will be addressed in the last panel, which will concentrate on cities as spaces of imagination, technological innovation and projection to rethink Africa and more broadly our contemporary world.

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