Urban environments are at the nexus of an extensive social transformation in Africa. New political forms, increased participation of broad populations, and the emergence of new discourses of citizenship are taking place in contexts of massive demographic change, encounters and crossings across laminated and stratified identities of race, ethnicity, class, language, sexuality and gender and technological innovation. These developments are fuelled by vertical and horizontal processes of globalisation refigured through the particularities of the local urban context and local institutions.
A considerable amount of research into cities - and consequently of policy making - treats urban places as more or less fixed, technical objects. By contrast, the myriad personal daily actions, activities, events and conversations that endlessly constitute and reconstitute cities in the image of their inhabitants are less well accounted for. The conference will focus on such city sensibilities of the everyday and experiential, approaching the city as a social construction and as a social imaginary; exploring the production, consumption and appropriation of urban spaces, circulation within them, and the semiotics, spectacle and performativity of the urban.
The conference aims to bring together established and emerging researchers whose research treats urban spaces as highly differentiated and unstable sites, as a multifaceted social and cultural construction whose purpose and sustainability is in the hands of its residents. We seek to encourage the participation of theorists and practitioners within the fields of architecture, anthropology, film, literature, performance, gender studies, popular culture, visual arts, history and urban studies, geography, heritage, linguistics and multilingual studies. One of our intentions is that those studying cities in different parts of the world will enter into dialogue with African city specialists.
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