Category Archives: Commentary

Open Doors: Integration and the Impact of Refugee Populations.
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Open Doors: Integration and the Impact of Refugee Populations.

In this commentary Kampala based photographer and film-maker Joel Ongwech reflects on his participation in a recent exhibition at The Square Gallery in the city Most of my work has started with research and then developed into film or photography through a situated approach that allows me to really get to know my subjects and the contexts […]

North Jakarta: Kampung livelihood responses to infringing infrastructures
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North Jakarta: Kampung livelihood responses to infringing infrastructures

‘Maybe, it’s okay for the big people [rich/elite] to live by the sea. But, for us [kampung residents], our rights have run out.’ –Interview with Kampung resident, 11 July 2017, Kampung Kerang Ijo. For traditional fishing kampung (urban villages) along North Jakarta’s coast, there have always been livelihood uncertainties. Residents daily manage how many fish […]

Convenient Informality on the Street in Maputo
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Convenient Informality on the Street in Maputo

In Maputo, absence is felt in the infrastructure. I spend several months away from the city, and the skyline has changed. Banks and technology companies replace old lots that belonged to a friend of a friend’s grandmother’s best friend. Old traditional Portuguese bakeries, or pastelarias, are now serving single espressos alongside Chinese food restaurants and […]

Such is life in the urban tropics
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Such is life in the urban tropics

In 2015, the National Research Institute of Colombia “Alexander von Humboldt” (commonly known as Instituto Humboldt), promoted Urban Nature: Platform of Experiences, a book project giving voice to diverse sets of knowledge that come into play when addressing and managing biodiversity and ecosystem services in Colombian cities. Over 80 authors presented 40 case studies across […]

On the precarity of the global present and its implications for the African city
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On the precarity of the global present and its implications for the African city

The last couple of decades have witnessed a series of regional events that have threatened to shift the tides of global politics. For instance, it was not long ago that the notion of ‘Africa rising’ became such a hot story amidst optimistic accounts of a growing middle class, inclusive technologies, sprawling cities, and budding economies. […]

Beguiled by French theory: On the Relevance of Rancière to South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens
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Beguiled by French theory: On the Relevance of Rancière to South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens

Our academic culture continues to reward intellectuals who cite big-name, usually white, male, and European theories and theorists. French theorists, in particular, are given special attention. While sympathetic to the compulsion to harness the ideas of great men, one can no longer claim that this is the only way to succeed in the academic publishing […]

Thinking Urban Change in a Southern City
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Thinking Urban Change in a Southern City

I couldn’t quite figure it out. The entire project of housing provision in South African cities seemed to be marked by an almost obsessive sense of calculation, of rational town planning. Most notoriously there is the waiting list. After apartheid, the South African government embarked on a mass formal housing delivery program. In order to […]

The politics of flood mitigation in Jakarta
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The politics of flood mitigation in Jakarta

Jakarta is marked by a paradox: the city suffers from both too much and too little water. During monsoon season, heavy precipitation strains the network of canals and waterways that weave through Jakarta’s urban fabric, threatening to overwhelm the city. Rivers swell, sometimes inundating housing constructed along their banks. Water collects in roads, bringing the […]

Imaginaries on researching and inhabiting a city of sprawling ‘mobile’ infrastructures – Nairobi
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Imaginaries on researching and inhabiting a city of sprawling ‘mobile’ infrastructures – Nairobi

Imagine that you just alighted at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, only 25 minutes from Nairobi’s Central Business District. Obviously, the first thing that you will want to do is get connected. At the airport, there are often a handful of enthusiastic mobile telecommunications agents and personnel that are readily on standby, more than willing to […]

Saint-Louis Sinking
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Saint-Louis Sinking

I’m walking through Guet Ndar, a neighbourhood in Saint-Louis, Senegal. We can hear the waves of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. During my last visit, a number of years ago, they seemed perhaps more distant, whereas now they seem almost upon us. We turn a corner near a mosque and look out. What were once streets […]