Urban Africa - Urban Africans: Emergent Spaces and Multiple Representations
AEGIS: Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies.
The 2016 Summer School will focus on the theme of Urban Africa – Urban Africans: Emergent Spaces and Multiple Representations. The continental rate of urbanisation is currently the highest in the world, at the same time as the notional countryside comes both to mimic the city and be re-shaped by its dynamics (sometimes referred to as a process of 'deagrarianisation'). These fundamental changes are stimulating a growing body of research and publication on the topic of newly emergent urban spaces.
Rapid urbanization poses a challenge for governments and societies confronted with new mobilities, materialities, languages and identity politics forged within these emergent spaces. The aim of the School is to analyse a range of issues arising from Africa's new urbanism, viewed from the standpoint of politics, critical geography, economics, religion and culture. Our interest is not only in the big towns that usually are at the fore of academic debates, but also small and medium towns. The School will also encourage the analysis of the relations between these urban spaces and their surrounding 'rural' environment. The School will be structured around panels that are thematic as well as interdisciplinary. These will be facilitated by a senior researcher with a specific interest in the theme, who will present some of his/her own work in a plenary session. Papers in the thematic panels will be presented by the participating students and these will be circulated in advance. Both the senior researcher and the students will perform the role of discussants of these papers. Special attention will be given to methodological issues, conceptual reflections, the lessons to be drawn from comparison, and to the place of history in understanding contemporary political and social processes. Papers from across the full range of disciplines and regions are welcomed.
The following are indicative sub-themes, but should not be considered as definitive or exhaustive:
1. Political Power: Themes might include competition between capital cities and other urban centres (within the same state), but also between multiple spheres of government (national, sub-national), party politics and strategies, local democracy and collective mobilisation, the presence and development of institutions such as parliaments and political parties, the changing nature of urban local government, and cities as main sites of hegemonies of power and contestation.
2. Popular Culture: Cities are often places where new artistic movements and languages start, strongly influencing music, literature and theatre, but also other genres such as comics, street graffiti and sport.
3. (Social) Identity and Practices: Urban spaces are often characterised by the presence of notional foreigners and minorities, often settled in specific neighbourhoods, or places chosen by intellectuals where aspirations articulate. Moreover, urban spaces in some countries have also become ethnically zoned articulating with or replacing more class-based spatialities. Papers might consider competing claims on or creations of urban space.
4. Religion: Different religious groups share urban spaces, often competing for visibility there, as the building of new churches, mosques and other centres of worship demonstrates. African cities often serve as nodes that link religious communities to larger global networks of belief. It is anticipated that the global connectivity of African cities will feature prominently.
5. Mobility and Immobility: Issues surrounding the generation of slums, gentrification, displacement, the reinvention of traditional authority and the settlement of immigrants are all part of contemporary urban realities. But transportation, road building, urban planning, accessibility, and their various impacts (in economy, demography, public health) all contribute to what it means to be mobile.
6. Political Economy, Work and Livelihood: Urban spaces are sites of capital accumulation and spatial (as well as racialised, classed, gendered, generation-based) divisions of labour, and as such, sites of inequality. Papers would be expected to pay particular attention to relations and tensions between different actors, institutions, policies and infrastructures that combine in the making and remaking of urban spaces. Contributions are also invited on the political economy of urban informality (waste disposal, street trading, water services, etc.); as well as on the effects of urban agriculture, tourism (e.g. the market for ‘traditional’ African art' and its link to local and global dynamics) and consumerism.
The 2016 Summer School is organized by the Centro di Studi Africani in Sardegna – CSAS (AEGIS-Cagliari) in collaboration with the AEGIS Centres of Roskilde, Edinburgh, Leipzig, Leiden, Napoli, Vienna, Lisbon and Copenhagen. The aim of the Summer School is: a) to bring together advanced Ph.D. students and teaching staff from AEGIS Centres in order to exchange field and research experience; b) to improve the students’ ability to prepare and present their research in an international context and more specifically to serve as a ‘feeder’ for ECAS 7 in Basel; c) to promote graduate training within AEGIS and stimulate African-European interuniversity cooperation.
The workshop is open to some 20 Ph.D. students and young researchers coming from AEGIS Centres and their affiliates in Europe and Africa. Applicants are invited to submit proposals (a 500-word abstract as well as a one-page outline of their Ph.D. status and current research) that address the overall theme. Papers that apply and/or refine conceptual and theoretical approaches to the subject matter, as well as presenting fresh empirical information, will be especially welcome. Applicants will be selected on the basis of their research outline and their ability to engage with wider issues in African Studies today. Priority will be given to students and researchers with recent field experience and fresh research results. Application by African students based in African Universities is encouraged; subsidies for the participation of a limited number of successful African applicants will be available on the basis of merit. The deadline for submitting proposals is 29 February 2016. Participants will be informed of acceptance by 15 March 2016.
Each AEGIS member participant will be asked to contribute to the Summer School expenses by paying a lump-sum of €200 to partly cover registration, food and lodging in Cagliari. The cost of travel to and from Cagliari is to be met by individual participants. Candidates coming from AEGIS Centres can apply to their Centre for financial assistance. External candidates will have to pay for their own expenses. Participants are expected to register in the afternoon of Monday 20 June 2016. Working sessions will be held from Tuesday 21 June 2016 to Saturday 25 June 2016.
For more details please write to:
Local Organizing Committee:
Logistical enquiries may be directed to Dr. Isabella Soi, CSAS Scientific Co-ordinator at:
Rijk van Dijk (ASC-Leiden) DIJKR@ascleiden.nl
Ulf Engel (Leipzig) firstname.lastname@example.org
Birgit Englert (Vienna) email@example.com
Amanda J. Hammar (Copenhagen) firstname.lastname@example.org
Preben Kaarsholm (Roskilde) email@example.com
Paul Nugent (Edinburgh) Paul.Nugent@ed.ac.uk;
Antonio Pezzano (Naples) firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuel Ramos (Lisbon) email@example.com