Paul Jenkins – Understanding Urbanisation, Urbanism And Urbanity in African Cities

Human settlement in cities of the South need different approaches to those initially developed in rapid urbanisation in the North from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries, however our concepts of the good ‘urban’ are deeply influenced by this historically and geographically distinct experience. In addition our professional approaches embed these concepts (generally with a high degree of disciplinary exclusivity in understanding), albeit with at least half a century of more recent ‘development discourse’ overlay and adjustment. Whether such concepts, disciplinary approaches and/or professional praxis are relevant would appear to be significantly challenged by the widespread and increasing ‘non-conforming reality’ of cities of the South.

This is perhaps no more clear than in emerging urban areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, the last global macro-region to enter the rapid urbanisation process. In this context, weak states and high levels of urban poverty (and therefore limited private sector engagement) lead to the vast majority of such fast expanding urban areas being developed, not according to pre-defined developmentalist approaches which are overwhelmed by the reality, but by (mostly poor) urban residents, according to their socio-cultural agency, albeit constrained by political economic structures. This has led to a prevalent negative view of such emerging urbanism, labelling this as ruralisation, or defective/pathological forms of urbanity.

Bookmark and Share

#direngeziparkı #direndemokrasi (#resistforgezipark #resistfordemocracy)


A protester with a medical mask against tear gas
Photo: Ekmel Ertan

I had thought that those who characterized the Tahrir square uprising in Egypt as facebook revolution were neglecting the primary dynamics of the event in favour of new media. I am in the field of new media and the conferences I have attended always looked at the subject from this angle and foregrounded the role of social media. Facebook graffiti on the streets of Cairo was noteworthy. Social media had an undeniable role in all this but I thought that the “facebook revolution” characterization was a kind of branding, a new form of orientalism.

Last week I changed my mind. I certainly cannot call what happened in Turkey as a facebook revolution but I have experienced how important and defining facebook and social media in general can be. Facebook graffiti in Cairo streets were in fact a tactic to try to draw people to social media. Tahrir square was the first social movement of this size where the effect of social media became so apparent.

In Istanbul nobody wrote facebook or twitter on walls. This was because these are ordinary and everyday communication tools for the youth on the streets. Everyone was aware. This is why social media was intensively used from the very beginning. Nobody will call what happened in Istanbul a facebook revolution because that first wave has already been overcome in Egypt. However, I feel obliged to say, is social media wasn’t there, we may well woken up to much darker mornings. The uprising would have been taken care of in a couple of days with excessive police violence, and the pain of injustice would have been planted in the bad memories of those hopeless souls who know what happened, and who are ostracized precisely because of this knowledge. Read more

Bookmark and Share

Ekmel Ertan – #direngeziparkı #direndemokrasi – From The Billboards On The Streets

EkmelStraatTwoEkmelStreetThree Read more

Bookmark and Share

Janine Di Giovanni – The Problem With Cities June 24, 2013.
If the protests in Brazil are about any one thing, it’s the agony of urban poverty. And it’s not just Brazil. Janine di Giovanni on the looming crisis facing global cities.
Brazil is on fire, with hundreds of thousands of people hitting the streets to vent their anger and rage at corruption, the high cost of living, and proposed hikes in bus fares. Protests in Istanbul are still raging after nearly a month. Even Stockholm was raging in the recent weeks.

Welcome to the first truly urban century. It’s not going to be pretty. Reasons for these protests are nearly impossible to define, even on a superficial level, but one through line is clear—these are cases of city dwellers being plain fed up.

In Brazil, bus fares and corruption were only superficial catalysts for the rage in the streets. The underlying cause is an urban nation that is split neatly between the haves and have-nots. In economic lingo, Brazil is one of the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China—a block of nations with rapidly advancing economies. But while the wealthy flaunt their excessive lifestyles in Rio and São Paulo, life in the favelas,or shantytowns, is murderously hard.
The favelas, founded by soldiers with nowhere else to go, have been around for hundreds of years. By the 1970s, as urbanization became a lifeline for impoverished Brazilians looking for work, they became breeding grounds for violent gangs, drug dealers, and dirty politics. The most realistic portrayal of life in the favela was Fernando Meirelles’s extraordinarily graphic and disturbing 2002 film City of God. In it, Meirelles exposes the horrors of poverty—all while golden riches lay a few miles away.

Read more:

Bookmark and Share

Vanessa Watson: Conflicting Rationalities In Cape Town: Power At The Interface

Lecture by Prof. Vanessa Watson, University of Cape Town.
International workshop on ‘Changing socio-spatial configurations of inclusion and exclusion: planning and counter-planning in the African city’, 7-8 March 2012 Uppsala, Sweden.

Bookmark and Share

Ananya Roy: Making Postcolonial Futures: The ‘Slum-Free’ Cities Of The Asian Century

Lecture by Prof. Ananya Roy, University of California.
International workshop on ‘Changing socio-spatial configurations of inclusion and exclusion: planning and counter-planning in the African city’, 7-8 March 2012 Uppsala, Sweden.

Bookmark and Share

  • About

    Rozenberg Quarterly aims to be a platform for academics, scientists, journalists, authors and artists, in order to offer background information and scholarly reflections that contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue in a seemingly divided world. By offering this platform, the Quarterly wants to be part of the public debate because we believe mutual understanding and the acceptance of diversity are vital conditions for universal progress. Read more...
  • Support

    Rozenberg Quarterly does not receive subsidies or grants of any kind, which is why your financial support in maintaining, expanding and keeping the site running is always welcome. You may donate any amount you wish and all donations go toward maintaining and expanding this website.

    10 euro donation:

    20 euro donation:

    Or donate any amount you like:

    ABN AMRO Bank
    Rozenberg Publishers
    IBAN NL65 ABNA 0566 4783 23
    reference: Rozenberg Quarterly

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please see our About page or contact us:
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Archives