Seminar presentation and film screening on the politics of waste management in South African cities.
How do we face the challenge of existing, obdurate built environments and infrastructures (and imaginaries and imperatives built upon and around them) in responding to the threat/s of climate change? Are such materialities as obdurate as is often imagined, and if so, to what degree? With what stakes, and with and for whom, do we engage this obduracy?
We are happy to circulate this call for films produced as scholarly outputs. Annals of Crosscuts is an emerging publication for film research with a double-blind peer-review. Accepted films (max 40 min of length) will have premiere in the ANNALS OF CROSSCUTS section of Crosscuts Stockholm Environmental Humanities Festival for Film and Text the 22-24 November 2019. Please consider submitting your own work or encouraging others to apply. Abstract submission deadline: 22 May 2019 More information here.
As part of broader efforts to develop regional learning across the continent, the Situated Urban Political Ecology collective and Urban Action Lab at Makerere University will be hosting a workshop on urban infrastructures in Africa from November 12-15, 2018 in Kampala, Uganda. Scholars and practitioners are increasingly grappling with alternative modes of infrastructural provision. This is motivated by scholarly interest in everyday infrastructural practices and politics as well as concerns about the economic, environmental, social and political viability of universal, uniform infrastructure networks. In theory and practice, this is resulting in challenges to existing urban theorization, political agendas and infrastructure provision. The multiplicity of infrastructures undoubtedly creates challenges for both our scholarly generalization and normative practices. While there has been a growth of scholarship, much of this is case-based and performative, usefully focused on what is there and how it works. At this workshop, we will seek to develop new research questions, outputs and networks with the aim of thinking through the heterogeneity of infrastructure provisioning in cities across sub-Saharan Africa (see e.g. Lawhon et al., 2018; Monstadt and Schramm, 2017; Jaglin, 2016; please contact us at email@example.com if you have difficulties accessing any of these materials). We are interested […]
As part of the African Centre for Cities‘ International Urban Conference, Kathleen Stokes and Nate Millington organized a series of sessions dedicated to thinking about the relationships between labor, infrastructure, and politics in cities of the global south. We received numerous papers from scholars working in cities all over the world, from Accra to Delhi. Below, we highlight the presentations that were given in order to highlight the work being done by researchers interested in situating urban political ecological research through sustained engagements with cities of the global south. Old engines, pipes, pumps, and cables at a SACMEX workshop. Photograph by Alejandro De Coss. In his presentation, Maintaining Mexico City’s Lerma water supply system: an ethnography of labour and infrastructure, Alejandro De Coss (Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science), looked at the ways in which the Mexico City water system is maintained and repaired. In particular, he focused on the Lerma System, an inter-basin transfer built between 1942 and 1951, which still supplies the city with approximately 14% of its daily water use. During the course of one year, Alejandro worked alongside the repair and maintenance teams of the Mexico City Water System in two different sites. One was the Lerma […]
In a new article, SUPE members Joseph Pierce, Mary Lawhon, and Anesu Makina reflect on theorizations of urban appropriation in South African urban contexts. Engaging with Lefebvrian theorizations of the ‘Right to the City‘ as well as Bayat’s idea of ‘quiet encroachment,’ the authors argue that actors in South Africa operate using a different model of appropriation. They note that urban actors in South Africa often act in ways that could be characterized as appropriative, yet do not work to consolidate a right to occupy or appropriate land founded on durable permission. These acts are, they argue, not adequately explained as apolitical or individualistic even as the logic used to justify them is often based neither on rights nor needs. Drawing from these dynamics, the authors propose a ‘third’ mode of urban appropriation, alongside Lefebvre’s and Bayat’s, that they argue is present in South African cities. They label such appropriation ‘agonistically transgressive,’ and argue that it can be tentatively defined by three conceptual characteristics: Agonistic transgression is not oriented toward securing use of the city in an ongoing way, but entails always-ongoing efforts to appropriate. Agonistically transgressive appropriation thus deflects rhetorical efforts by both state and private actors to invoke authoritative adjudication or closure, because closure (whether […]
We now have times for screening our film “ONE TABLE TWO ELEPHANTS” (84 minutes, work in progress) at the ACC International Urban Conference 2018 in Cape Town. Screening including Q&A with Henrik Ernstson. Friday 2 Feb 2018, 13:00-15:00, and Saturday 3 Feb 2018, 13:00-15:00. NEVILLE ALEXANDER Lecture Theatre 1A, Upper Campus, UCT (the venue lies on the ground floor of the Neville Alexander building that lies between the New Lecture Theatre and Leslie Social Science building). These two screenings are especially organised for the ACC IUC 2018 delegates and UCT Film & Media students. No need to RSVP. Short trailer of the film embedded below. Please join us to see the film and discuss this film-based effort to research and engage African urbanism and Situated UPE. /Henrik and Jacob * Synopsis and description ONE TABLE TWO ELEPHANTS is a film about bushmen bboys, a flower kingdom and the ghost of a princess. Entering the city through it’s plants and wetlands, the many-layered, painful and liberating history of the city emerges as we see how biologists, hip hoppers, and wetland activists each searches for ways to craft symbols of unity and cohesion. But this is a fraught and difficult task. Perhaps not even desirable. Plants, aliens, memories and […]
There will unfortunately not be an ACC Democratic Practices Winter School during 2018. However, we are planning another three years from 2019, 2020 and 2021 that will tentatively be more centred on racial capitalism, settler colonial urbanisation, resistance and democratic practices in the contemporary era. The organising committee is convening meetings during 2018 to lay the foundation for these three years and seek funding to hold the course including travel bursaries and organisational assistance. We are also not sure where the course will be held next time since Henrik Ernstson, who has been the anchor for funding and organising the course at ACC in Cape Town is joining The University of Manchester full time during 2018. However, we are still hopeful to be able to hold the course in South Africa, either at ACC again or in collaboration with another university. We will keep you posted and you can expect an update later in 2018. For questions or input, please contact Henrik. For those new to the Democratic Practices Winter School, its an intense one-week seminar where we read political philosophy with and against Southern urbanism. Rather than a geographical container, we are interested in the global South as an epistemological position and […]
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 in which they live in this city. For this particular project, it all started through my involvement as a researcher on a project led by Will Monteith at the School of International Development at University of East Anglia and Shuaib Lwasa at the Urban Action Lab at Makerere University in Uganda. As a researcher, collecting data in the form of multiple interviews across the cities helped develop my perspective on refugee life in the city. I then looked into these collected stories from an artistic perspective. So when the opportunity for participating in the OPEN DOORS exhibition came along I did not hesitate to apply since I had already a good understanding about the refugee situation in the urban city of Kampala and was keen to develop an artistic response. My photographic investigation focused on Elvis, a 27 year old Congolese refugee who moved to Kampala from […]
Science and technology studies (STS) has always insisted on staying situated and paying attention to detail, texture, locality and remained wary of wider explanatory narratives. At the same time STS has been accused of not providing the tools to build critique against more systemic structures of oppression and injustice. What I see as a very interesting comment to this debate, as old as STS and Actor-Network Theory from the 1980s, Lesley Greene at UCT Anthropology and their Environmental Humanities centre just uploaded a new collection to her Academia-page that gathers a series of short essays on the theme of decolonisation and decoloniality in relation to STS. I think this collection could be of interest to several of us interested in situated studies of urban political ecology . The collection is called “Engagements with Decolonization and Decoloniality in and at the Interfaces of STS” published in the Catalyst journal on feminism, theory and technoscience. Part of the inspiration to this work, as the curators of the collection—Kristina Lyons, Juno Parreñas and Noah Tamarin—write can be traced as an intermix between recognised STS scholars such as Helen Verran and David Turnbull, with writings as wide as Frantz Fanon, Anna Tsing, Aníbal Quijano, with mentioning of Steve […]
Urban infrastructural transitions and a progressive reworking of the contemporary city Organizers: Valentin Meilinger (Utrecht University), Joe Williams (Durham University) Urban infrastructures are inextricably linked to social and material orders of contemporary cities and their urban geographies. They shape (and are shaped by) urban resource flows, modes of governing, lifestyles, but also urban injustices; and they are embedded in the socio-cultural foundations of contemporary capitalism (Amin/Thrift 2016). While urban infrastructures are increasingly acknowledged as powerful levers for urban sustainability and climate policies, the infrastructural heritage of the modern capitalist city and the social orders tied to it remain adamant barriers of more progressive urban (infrastructural) transitions (Pincetl 2016). Particularly, current urban water and energy transitions and their entanglements bear testimony of this. The aim of this session is to reflect on whether and how urban infrastructures can be conceptualized and studied as platforms for a more progressive reworking of social and material orders of contemporary capitalist cities. The main aims of this session will be to foster discussion around: Developing a critical understanding of how urban infrastructures, as relational systems, provide a valuable analytical lens to explore socio-material reconfigurations of contemporary cities and shifting “infrastructural spaces” (Easterling 2014). Tracing how […]
Call for Papers: AAG, New Orleans, 10-14 April 2018 *Urban Political Ecology: Bodies, Social Reproduction and Everyday Life* Session organisers: Archie Davies (King’s College London) and James Angel (King’s College London) Please email abstracts (no more than 250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 18th October Urban political ecology provides a valuable lens through which to interrogate the power-laden production of urban environments, undoing reactionary binaries between the city and nature and offering possibilities for imagining and enacting more democratic socionatural trajectories (Swyngedouw 1996, Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw 2006, Heynen 2014). Yet recent years have seen calls for an urban political ecology more closely attuned to the sensibilities, senses and rhythms of everyday life (Loftus 2012). Urban environments are produced through the dialectical relation between waged and unwaged labour, yet thus far urban political ecological engagements with the “fleshy, messy” (Katz 2001) work of social reproduction has been relatively sparse. For Doshi (2017) there is a need for a more “embodied” urban political ecology, beginning from the body as the site at which contested socioecological processes are made and remade. This session seeks to deepen the dialogue between urban political ecology and theories of the body and everyday life. We welcome contributions that […]
CALL FOR PAPERS American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana, April 10-14, 2018 The Political Ecology of Urban Flood Risk and Management: Dialogues across the North-South Divide Organizers: Emma Colven (UCLA), Nate Millington (University of Cape Town), & Malini Ranganathan (American University) Discussants: Malini Ranganathan, Yaffa Truelove (University of Colorado), and Nate Millington Sponsored by the Water Resources Speciality Group, Urban Geography Speciality Group, and the Cultural and Political Ecology (CAPE) Specialty Group. In contrast to the rich literature on the politics of piped water and water scarcity, scholars within critical human geography and urban political ecology have only recently begun to substantially engage with urban flooding (Mustafa 2005; Smith 2006; Padawangi 2014; Ranganathan 2015; Arabindoo 2016; Cousins 2017). In the wake of deadly flood events and violent storms this year across South Asia, the US, and the Caribbean, there is a need for further research into the political ecologies of urban flooding in contemporary cities. This session aims to contribute to this research agenda by critically reflecting on the politics and history of urban flood risk and flood management in cities around the world. Informed by scholarship in postcolonial urban theory and creative ways of rethinking […]
Together with Greek and Swedish theatre practitioners and researchers, The Situated Ecologies Platform has been involved in constructing a theatre workshop in the Softex Camp in Thessaloniki in Greece for 10 days. Working with Syrian refugees living at Softex, a co-constructed “theatre in action” will be performed in the Vassiliko Theatre on May 29, 2017 in Thessaloniki as a result of this workshop. Read more from the full blog-post here.
Call for Papers: African Centre for Cities International Urban Conference, 1-2 February 2018 Session: Working infrastructures in cities of the Global South Organisers: Kathleen Stokes (University of Manchester) and Nate Millington (University of Cape Town) Infrastructures contribute to the collective flows and metabolisms that produce urban space. From sanitation to transport, electricity to water, these socionatural configurations are essential to the organising and delivering of the resources that shape human livelihoods, economic markets, and urban environments. Urban inhabitants not only draw upon and contribute to infrastructural flows and processes – their environments and lives are influenced and informed by the nature of infrastructures themselves. According to Easterling, “far from hidden, infrastructure is now the overt point of contact and access between us all – the rules governing the space of everyday life” (2014, 11). Recent scholarship has theorised infrastructure as ‘splintering’ (Graham & Marvin, 2001), ‘lively’ (Amin, 2014), ‘incremental’ (Silver, 2014), and ‘vital’ (Fredericks, 2014). Meanwhile, efforts to situate and decolonise research concerning urban life in the global South have challenged conventional or universalist approaches to researching urban infrastructures, along with their associated actors and processes (Lawhon, Ernstson, & Silver, 2014; Roy, 2009; Simone, 2015). How can we continue to […]
SUPE contributor Nate Millington has a chapter in the recently released volume, Deconstructing the High Line: Postindustrial Urbanism and the Rise of the Elevated Park. The book considers the High Line from multiple perspectives, critically assessing its aesthetic, economic, ecological, symbolic, and social impacts. Millington’s chapter focuses on São Paulo’s Minhocão, an elevated highway that functions as an informal public space when closed to automobile traffic on nights and weekends. Assessing ongoing conversations about turning the space into São Paulo’s High Line, Millington argues that engaging with public space in São paulo demands a broader engagement with the contours of inequality that shape the city. He subsequently argues that efforts to construct public space that borrow from European and North American formulations run the risk of missing out on the complex, overlapping ways in which public space in São Paulo is often much more about the lack of regulation than the existence of formally regulated or codified public spaces. He draws inspiration from the many examples of collective occupation and appropriation happening in Brazil and around the world.
In a new, open-access article in Environment and Planning A, Jon Silver considers the low-carbon restructuring of the waste system in Mbale, Uganda, a town struggling to address its socio-ecological futures. Silver asserts that an Urban Political Ecology approach to how urban carbon governance is materialised advances three particular concerns; the governing of urban circulation, carbon capital and socio-material relations. Through examining these, the paper shows how global actors are increasingly involved in low-carbon transformation, use places such as Mbale as spaces of experimentation, and dominate the governing of this restructuring. Yet out of such unjust processes new forms of contestation and low-carbon politics may emerge.
In a new article in Critical African Studies, SUPE contributor Jacob Doherty considers the precariousness that marks Kampala’s boda boda (motorcycle taxi) industry. Through a relational approach to ontology, he asks how the boda boda industry comes into being and endures, what forms of vulnerability it entails, and what experiences, relations, and forms of urban life it produces. Jacob argues that three forms disposability structure and arise from the industry – structural unemployment, embodied vulnerability, and infrastructural displacement. Infrastructural violence, he argues, must be considered when describing and theorizing people as infrastructure. The article examines how boda boda drivers’ shared condition of insecurity and disposability generates intense forms of sociality, solidarity, mutual obligation, recognition, and urban vitality.
The Third Annual ACC Seminar & PhD Course on Democratic Practices focuses on “Understanding Capitalism in Unequal Geographies” and will run from 19-23 June 2017 in Cape Town. Apply here before 20 May 2017. We have 14-18 seats. For more information, keep reading! ACC Winter School on “Democratic Practices of Unequal Geographies”, year III PhD Course/Seminar, University of Cape Town Understanding Capitalism in Unequal Geographies: Reading across Political Philosophy and Southern Urbanism June 19-23, 2017 Lecturers: Dr. Andrés Henao Castro, University of Massachusetts Boston Dr. Ashley Bohrer, Hamilton College, New York City Dr. Henrik Ernstson, KTH and University of Cape Town Last application date: 20 May 2017. Enter your application at this website. Requirements, costs and how to apply We are inviting PhD students, younger scholars and Master students with different background and specialties. We will give preference to applicants from South Africa and Southern Africa. The seminar is free” (NB! Unfortunately we cannot offer any travel grants this year.) Application: To apply, go to the website indicated above and please submit a short answer to why you would like to attend and how you think the seminar relates to your studies. Decision on attendance: You will know by 22 May 2017 if you are accepted to […]
To keep our new site SituatedUPE post up-to-date on our various activities, I am re-posting this blog that announced the talk by Professor Erik Swyngedouw who gave an ACC Special Lecture at The Cape Institute for Architecture (CIFA) on 8 March 2017. We have yet to create the link to the video we did of the event (AAG and book submission came in between). Departing from the aftermaths of the magical year of 2011’s urban insurrections across many different cities, Professor Erik Swyngedouw will aim to understand our present historical moment under capitalism through re-configuring how we think about urban struggles, politics and the political. This will be followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Henrik Ernstson centering on what it means to politicize and radically democratize the city, making connections to ongoing urban struggles in Cape Town and South Africa. The event is co-hosted by the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town and The Cape Institute for Architecture (CIFA). We welcome you at 18:00 for drinks and snacks with the talk starting at 18:30 (sharp), followed by a discussion. Please join us at CIFA in Cape Town CBD, 71 Hout Street, 18:00-20:00. Free entry with drinks and snacks. RSVP by […]
Bruce Baigrie and Henrik Ernstson have just published a critique of “eco-estates” in GroundUp (online magazine) based on an initial study in Nordhoek, Cape Town. In this piece we do a first analysis of the making of an “eco-estate” in Cape Town and its social and ecological effects. These “eco-estates” enroll and depoliticise environmental arguments to create a “green” life-style choice for the rich. Often placed on pristine land outside the urban edge, these “eco-estates” represent a deeply problematic and pervasive urban development in South African cities. Not only do they exploit “green” arguments, consumes a lot of space—but they also form part of a “geographical escapism” that re-produces spatial apartheid (Ballard and Jones 2011) and what SA historian Premesh Lalu (2009) has called a “settler public sphere,” a public discourse that makes invisible ongoing violence and the wider reality of a country and neighbourhood of deep and racialized inequality. For the GroundUp version, please go here, which is being reproduced under the Creative Commons licence below. If you like to re-tweet, please consider tweeting this ‘original’ tweet at @rhizomia. To cite this, use: Baigrie, Bruce, and Henrik Ernstson. 2017. “Noordhoek Eco-Estates Protect the Rich from the Reality of Masiphumelele: […]
Henrik Ernstson is an invited keynote lecturer at the upcoming Trier Summer University on “Decolonizing Urbanism: Transformative Perspectives”, Trier University, Germany June 6-12, 2017. Deadline for application January 31, 2017. For updated information and application details, see their website. Call for Applications: Trier Summer University “Decolonizing Urbanism: Transformative Perspectives” Trier University, Germany June 6-12, 2017 The Governance and Sustainability Lab at Trier University is now inviting applications for its 2017 Summer University, which will take place June 6-12, 2017. Applications are invited from advanced doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers as well as from early career professionals working in geography, urban studies, urban planning, political science, international relations, development studies, gender studies, native studies, cultural studies, sociology, ecology and related fields. Participants will explore the theme of ‘decolonizing urbanism’ through a mixture of public lectures, seminar sessions, advanced skills trainings, excursions, and cultural activities. The Summer University will be held in English. The deadline for applications is January 31, 2017. On Our Theme, ‘Decolonizing Urbanism’ When the United Nations was founded in 1945, nearly a third of the world’s population lived in territories that were dependent on colonial powers. Since then, many territories have found freedom, yet a variety of colonial relationships and physical legacies […]
Kathleen Stokes reflects on waste management and political ecology in Cape Town. Kathleen is a PhD student in Human Geography at the University of Manchester with a research focus on community responsibility and labour in waste management. She is part of the Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish Project, which is run in collaboration between the University of Cape Town, the University of Manchester and Florida State University. While attending the ACC’s winter school on democratic practices, I was fortunate enough to meet with a range of people involved in Cape Town’s waste management system. Through these discussions, and my own encounters with the city’s sites of disposal and decomposition, I was struck by the variety of imperatives driving waste management, and the relations between people whose livelihoods depend on the sector. Managing rubbish is a complex affair in any city. In Cape Town, the municipal government is responsible for waste management services, and informed by legislation and policy imperatives from national and provincial government. Within the context of rapid urbanization, enduring inequalities, and state promises of universal service provision, municipal strategies have tended towards neoliberal strategies of contracting out, public-private partnerships, and cost recovery. In addition to contracting service responsibilities out to businesses, […]
The Urban Action Lab (UAL) at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda has launched their website. The UAL is run by Professor Shuaib Lwasa and his team of urban researchers and students and the Lab will make a crucial contribution from East Africa to pan-African attempts in facing urban challenges of the 21st century. By Henrik Ernstson Shuaib just sent out an email to a row of urban scholars that are all serious about contributing to urban sustainable and just cities through the particular experiences and challenges of Africa and the South. He writes: [A]fter several years of engaging in urban research, conceptual rethinking as well as solutions-oriented co-generation of knowledge with all of you at various points, we now have an online platform for sharing the knowledge while we continue to galvanise the understanding of urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa. With Uganda and East Africa as the launch pad, the UAL is envisaged to grow into a regional knowledge hub and Centre focused on the various issues in regard to African Urbanism and sustainable urban development. For those going to the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador 17-20 October 2016, the Urban Action Lab will exhibit in the Exhibition Hall. Shuaib Lwasa and PhD student Peter Kasaija, will […]
Martín Ávila from Konstfack in Stockholm is visiting the leading Semiotics Department at the University of Tartu in Estonia on the 2nd of September 2016. Supported by funds from Henrik Ernstson’s MOVE project at KTH, he will meet with biosemiotician Kallevi Kull and colleagues to extend and strengthen the interdisciplinary dialogue that he and Henrik Ernstson have developed and which seeks new insights into political ecology using speculative design. Politics of co-habitation Martín Àvila’s postdoc work on Symbiotic Tactics have been featured on this blog before and it is part of a wider collaboration based at KTH’s Environmental Humanities Laboratory. During his visit in Tartu, Martín Ávila will give a seminar based on the forthcoming manuscript with Henrik Ernstson called “Realms of Exposure: A Speculative Design Perspective of Material Agency and Political Ecology”, based on empirical work in Córdoba, Argentina. In inviting his colleagues, Kalevi Kull writes: This seminar will address issues of cohabitation among humans and nonhumans on an everyday basis, as mediated by (designed) artifacts. Martin Avila will present his postdoctoral project entitled “symbiotic tactics”, reflecting upon biosemiotic aspects that confront us with socio-ecological challenges. The manuscript by Ávila and Ernstson, turns around Ávila’s design of an alternative shower grating in people’s homes, one that aims to […]
Announcement of 12 PhD Positions The newly formed interdisciplinary Research Training Group Critical Infrastructures: Construction, Functional Failures, and Protection in Cities at the Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany (close to Frankfurt), announces twelve PhD positions (3 years) scheduled to begin 1 October 2016. The Research Training Group is funded by the German Research Council, and analyzes critical infrastructures in cities—the networked systems which supply urban conglomerations with energy, water, communication facilities, and transportation services, and which treat and dispose of waste- and stormwater. Those infrastructures have become the nervous systems of modern cities, and their failure can trigger dramatic crises. In recent years, the growing vulnerability that seem to accompany the increased dependency on infrastructural networks has been a controversial topic. That controversy is due not only to multiple external threats such as natural disasters, terrorist and cyber attacks, but also to the growing complexity and increasing inter- dependencies of infrastructure systems. The basic assumption of the Research Training Group is that critical infrastructures are highly context dependent both in temporal and spatial terms, and that they also manifest multiple spatial and temporal relations. The group’s aim is to understand and to explain these complex systems in their spatiality and […]
A new publication from our Situated UPE Collective was just published in Regional Studies by Mary Lawhon, Jonathan Silver, Henrik Ernstson and Joseph Pierce. It continues our contribution to Urban Political Ecology and Urban Studies. Postcolonial scholars have argued for the provincialization of urban knowledge, but doing so remains an opaque process. This paper argues that explicit attention to ‘learning to unlearn’ unstated theoretical assumptions and normativities can aid in provincialization, and demonstrate ways in which theorizing entails a socio-spatial situation. The authors’ efforts to grapple with operationalizing learning to unlearn in three different urban cases are described, followed by an articulation of strategies for theorizing which more explicitly acknowledge theory-building’s situatedness as well as points of reflection for developing postcolonial urban theory. The authors argue that this usefully shifts the focus of unlearning from ‘who’ is theorizing ‘where’ towards theory’s unstated norms and assumptions. Intervention in UPE and Urban Studies The new paper on “Unlearning (Un)located Ideas” (2016) follows our two previous co-authored papers, in Antipode on “Provincializing Urban Political Ecology” (2014) and in Regional Studies “Conceptual Vectors of African Urbanism” in (2014). Together they constitute a theoretical intervention and exploration of Urban Political Ecology and Urban Studies that aims to develop a […]
A couple of weeks back STOMPIE was screened on 25 Feb 2016 as a work-in-progress on how to weave together experiences of hiphop pedagogy with popular theatre. This was a ‘South-North’ collaboration around crafting stories from marginalised areas. Next steps being discussed among the STOMPIE Crew is a ‘Garage Tour’ to find STOMPIE Supporters, followed by a tour of High Schools in Grassy Park. Here is a short background to the project that involves The Heal the Hood Project, Mixed Mense Collective of artists, Teater Reflex, and the African Centre for Cities. STOMPIE is the result of three weeks of intensive collaboration between Emile Jansen (The Heal The Hood Project) and Kent Ekberg (Teater Reflex). They are two pedagogues with long-term experience from working in marginalised urban areas in their respective cities of Cape Town and Stockholm using dance/hip-hop/rap and popular community theatre, respectively. During these weeks they have worked with Leeroy Philips, Stefan Benting and Andre Bozack from the Mixed Mense Collective of dancers, artists and b-boys from Lavender Hill/Grassy Park. On 25 Feb it was showed as a work-in-progress on the “Garage Stage” in Grassy Park for kids and adults. The focus has been on what it means to tell and craft stories from Cape Flats today and the collaboration […]
Check out a 5 minute ‘teaser’ of the film “1 Table 2 Elephants” that we are finalising in 2017. Filmed in Cape Town in 2015, it deals with ways of knowing urban ecologies in postapartheid and postcolonial cities. It’s created by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson, produced in collaboration with KTH and UCT and funded by Formas. Many-layered city-nature Entering the city through its plants and wetlands, the many-layered, painful and liberating history of the city emerges as we meet how biologists, hip hoppers, and wetland activists each searches for ways to craft symbols of unity and cohesion. But this is a fraught and difficult task. Perhaps not even desirable. Plants, aliens, memories and ghosts keep troubling efforts of weaving stories about this place called Cape Town. The film tries to be a vehicle for more general conversations about history/histories, post/de-colonization and the caring for nature, city, people and oneself. Its directed towards a wide audience, from the general public to students and scholars. When ready during 2017 it will be 75 minutes long. Watch the 5 minutes ‘teaser’ below. A wider repertoire for doing urban political ecology The film forms part of an effort to build a wider repertoire of practices on how to approach urbanisation, cities […]
Kibera in Nairobi: Bukonola (Bukky) Ngobi and Joe Mulligan from Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) gives the background to a video about life in Kibera that they facilitated in making. It displays important down-to-the-ground innovative design and infrastructure practices that makes a difference. And that can scale and change the urban fabric. As far as I can see, a lot of people talk about Kibera, but my BIG question is: do they really know what they are talking about? We have a life in Kibera, our children go to school in Kibera, we buy food in Kibera, we get clean water from Nairobi Water, we own our businesses, we are students, we are land owners, we can bank in Kibera, we have good social organisations. The above extract comes from a passage written in 2015 by Ibrahim Maina, a life-long Kiberan and Program Coordinator at Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI). Ibra had been trying to write a blog piece about life in Kibera after reading a wildly inaccurate article about the settlement in a well-known international news outlet last year. Kibera is a poor neighbourhood in the centre of Nairobi which has been described as many things, including “Africa’s largest slum” and one of the “10 […]
The Swedish Research Council decided on the 3rd of November to fund a multi-disciplinary team from Sweden, Uganda, South Africa, UK, and USA to develop crucial knowledge about urban infrastructure challenges in Africa and the developing world. The team—with Drs Henrik Ernstson, Mary Lawhon, Shuaib Lwasa, Jonathan Silver and David Nilsson—will focus on waste and sanitation and they bring together world-leading institutes and a North-South advisory team. The project will use a political ecological framework to understand sustainable transitions based on everyday experiences among the poor, while linking to higher-level policy levels and regional discussions. Africa’s urban revolution Cities in Africa are growing at unprecedented rates, and face historically unique constraints including poverty, resource scarcity and colonial legacies. The project Urban Infrastructure Challenges of the South will work in two Ugandan cities and focus on waste and sanitation, two factors that significantly impact the health of residents and impact other development indicators, including school attendance, economic development, and gender equity. The World Bank estimates that Uganda loses a net 177 MUSD every year due to poor sanitation, which contributes to 23,000 annual deaths, including many youth and women and around 3,000 cases of cholera (World Bank WSP 2012). Only 40% […]
“Somos Sur” is a rap and hip-hop song by Chilean-French artist Ana Tijoux. To me it insists that this world needs thinking, analysis and action from the South. The song vibrantly also features Palestinian-British rapper Shadia Mansour and provides hip hop and rap at its best—constructively angry; ruthless in speaking back to power. But also in joining dots; rhythmically it enfolds and unfolds wider geographies of solidarity. So, in solidarity with the people of Gaza, listen to it! Somos Sur, Hip Hop and Cape Flats “Somos Sur” also speaks through its registers of rhythm and movement to our own academic project around situated urban political ecologies (SUPE)—and to southern urbanism; and in making use of experiences and intellectual traditions from ‘the elsewheres’ of this world in order to assemble departure points for critique and radical democratic practice. The song links directly to what I have learnt from my meetings with Capeflatsian hip hoppers Emile YX? and Mixed Mense. Their hip hop and pedagogic work in Cape Town can certainly be described as a democratic practice in that it shifts how, and who can speak into the future of Cape Town. Over the last couple of years I have reported on how their hip hop […]
Dr. Henrik Ernstson is organizing a major Civil Society Conference in Cape Town on 6 June, 2105. The conference is a result of his 3-year MOVE/CIVNET research project on civil society networks with Professor Mario Diani and Dr. Lorien Jasny. The conference gathers over 100 organisations that mobilise on the urban environment to debate and discuss the project’s findings, the autonomy of civil society—and democratisation of this once apartheid-divided city. This conference invites Cape Town’s civil society organzations to reflect and share their experiences in mobilizing and influencing the urban environment, from struggles around housing and service delivery, to the protection of habitat and biodiversity. Researchers are invited to discuss alliance building, movement formation and the democratization of urban space, including legacies from apartheid and contemporary challenges. Central is to give space for break-out groups, discussions and networking. Read more at our website. If you are civil society group in Cape Town, please go to the website and sign up to participate on the red RSVP button.
Dr. Henrik Ernstson and Dr. Jia-Ching Chen are organizing an ambitious conference at Stanford on the meeting between environmental scientists, global South urbanists and STS scholar on the “Urban Beyond Measure: Registering Urban Environments of the Global South”, May 8-9, 2015 at Stanford University. Included is also a session on film and photography as environmental humanities response to registers these urban environments beyond measure. Read more on our website. The processes of urbanization in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America are occurring at the fastest rates in human history. In the context of new cities, ‘megacities’, informal and illegal cities, what people think of as cities—our assumptions about how they develop, what they look like, what they provide and how—is changing in response. However, there are limits to our methods and theories in understanding these emergent cities. The registers we use to map, measure and code the city into intelligible data only capture certain aspects. In many regards, our scientific means of framing the city and how it is changing is in a process of catching up, leaving us with a sense of the urban beyond measure. In this regard, a meeting between science and urban studies is crucial in […]
Dr. Henrik Ernstson and Dr. Andrés Henao Castro is organising a week-long #SUPE literature seminar on “Political Theory Meets Global South Urbanism: Where is the Political?”, July 27-31, 2015 at ACC, University of Cape Town. I am happy to have invited Dr. Andrés Henao Castro to come to ACC at University of Cape Town for a month in July/August. Andrés is a Colombian who wrote his dissertation at the University of Massachusetts on political theory, working through the classics, but with a viewpoint from the immigrant, a very important topic from Europe, USA to South Africa these days. He writes about his dissertation: My dissertation offers a new framework through which to theorize contemporary democratic practices by attending to the political agency of unauthorized immigrants. I argue that unauthorized immigrants themselves, by claiming their own ambiguous legal condition as a legitimate basis for public speech, are able to open up the boundaries of political membership and to render the foundations of democracy contingent, that is to say, they are able to reopen the question about who counts as a member of the demos. Together we putting together a reading seminar on two bodies of literature—political theory and global South urbanism. With PhD students and participating scholars, we […]
Marnie Graham successfully defended her PhD thesis at Stockholm University on “Postcolonial Nature Conservation and Collaboration” on the 27th of February 2015. Her study is part of our “Ways Of Knowing Urban Ecologies” project in Cape Town where she has studied nature conservation and collaborative arrangements at the Macassar Dunes. By framing the site and nature conservation practices as embedded in colonial and apartheid legacies Dr. Marnie Graham uncovers how such legacies both continue into the present, but also when they are negotiated and transformed when people from different backgrounds meet. Her study includes analysis of how nature conservators are elaborating new identities and methods in becoming nature conservators in a post-apartheid and post-colonial urban setting like Cape Town. Based on empirical work in Cape Town, her thesis develops a more general approach on how to handle and understand the intersection between conservation and urbanization, in particular in cities of the Global South. The Swedish research council Formas is acknowledged for providing funding for this thesis research through the research grant “Ways of Knowing Urban Ecologies” (Dnr: 250-2010-1372; WOK-UE) lead by Dr. Henrik Ernstson. Her supervisors have been political ecologist Dr. Henrik Ernstson at KTH and human geographer Sandie Suchet-Pearson at Macquarie University in Sydney. Summary […]
The 26th of February, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory held the roundtable conversation Moving Closer to Nature. The discussions centred around researching and thinking about nature, capitalism and situated ways of knowing. This post is re-blogged from KTH Environmental Humanities website published on 2015-03-16. For more information read the film project site here. In this conversation, political ecologist Henrik Ernstson (KTH) invited Michael Adams (Wollongong University), Dan Brockington (University of Manchester) and Bill Adams (Cambridge University) to reflect, using their own empirical research, on how research, theory and thinking about nature have changed over their active careers. Central to the conversation was to move closer to nature to better understand its political content in a world where the pressures to codify nature to serve capital as a service, a product or a consumerist experience, is paralleled with a need to re-understand nature as profoundly intertwined with us. Indeed, we could have called this meeting ‘Nature in tension: between simplification and situatedness’. The Roundtable Conversation was filmed. The conversation is part of an environmental film project between Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson at Telltales Film and KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory and part of Henrik Ernstson Formas-funded research projects on Ways of Knowing Urban Ecologies […]
EDGES – or Environment and Development: Gender Equity and Sustainability – is a research collaborative based out of the University of British Columbia and led by Dr. Leila Harris. Members of the group include Masters and PhD students, mostly from the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, but also from the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, as well as post-docs and visiting scholars who work on relevant topics. EDGES work is predominantly concerned with research on marginalized and vulnerable populations (women, the impoverished, etc.) and seeks to deepen knowledge and advance action on a wide range of coupled social and environmental issues. EDGES members are currently working on a number of projects, one of which is the EDGES Comparative Water Governance in urban sites of Africa Research Project (CWGAR). The project encompasses a number of multi-year studies that focus on research at the intersection of water access/governance and citizenship in urban contexts, most notably in Cape Town, South Africa and Accra, Ghana. The project is also interested in the differentiated effects of neoliberal policies and market instruments on the lived experiences of water access and participation in water governance in these locales. Among the objectives of this […]
We have had thousands of views on our SUPE ‘Commentaries’ webspace during 2014. The contributions have been lively, gratifying to edit and read for the main editors Henrik Ernstson and Jonathan Silver. Contributions have come from various locations and people. Below we feature a selection of contributions. Importantly, the SUPE Commentaries has had contributions from several outside those that initiated the collective. A quick overview of SUPE Commentaries shows that the SUPE activities—workshops and special sessions—have triggered more scholars to contribute to grow our SUPE Collective. In particular younger and early career scholars have used this space to test ideas, report on their projects and share reflections. For the SUPE Collective this is a good breathing space to share. Please contribute! After the SUPE Pretoria workshop, one participant, Wangui Kimari used her research experience to reflect on police raids in urban areas in Kenya and Brazil—and the possibility of connecting favela resistance(s). She writes “it is important to recognise that the raids in these two cities are not exceptions and are rather entrenched in the more negative structural conditions that connect both Kenya and Brazil. These oppressions are anchored in the mutually shared politico-economic scaffoldings and unequal socio-natures that establish extreme income disparity, poverty, […]
Swedish filmer Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson report on their film project in Cape Town that deals with knowledge and urban nature. Filming will take place in Cape Town in January and March, with planned screening at the Urban Beyond Measure Conference: Registering Urban Environments of the Global South at Stanford University in May 2015. The film is also an effort to reflect upon how film and the camera can be part of a research process. The project contributes to broader efforts in the Environmental (post)Humanities to build on the tradition of film as document, art and tool. The project website is here. How different groups create knowledge about urban nature Our film takes an interest in how different groups create knowledge about urban nature, thereby shaping the future of the city, its ecology, and its meaning to the people of the city. The story starts with grassroots in Cape Town and their work to rehabilitate the Princess Vlei wetland, which has also come to address the city’s history and apartheid legacy. The film continues and follows other groups. In particular we aim to follow municipal biologists and ecologists who have developed and fought to protect ecological functions and the biodiversity of the city in face of development pressure at a broader scale. By describing the work of […]
Fernando Castillo, biologist and urban ecologist at the Centre for Conservation Studies and University of San Carlos de Guatemala, was invited to work for a week with Henrik Ernstson at Stanford University this May 2014. He here reports on his trip and how it lead to a proposal on urban political ecology in Guatemala. I did a short Research Internship with Dr. Henrik Ernstson at Stanford University this May 2014. I knew about his work when I read some of his articles and his webpage In Rhizomia. After some emails in which I asked for advice on urban political ecology, we instead came to arrange a full week for me to visit him to exchange ideas on urban political ecology in Latin America, and how Situated Urban Political Ecologies could play a role in formulating a research project for Guatemalan cities. The longer term aim is to contribute with research from Latin America and Guatemala, and provide material to Guatemalan debates on urban ecology and environmental justice. Based on this I started to develop ideas on how to apply this knowledge in the context of Guatemalan cities, which we discussed throughout. I developed this further into a discussion document at […]
As cities become increasingly significant to development and environmental crises at multiple scales, there is a growing need for research that can contribute to both theory and practice. The term “urban political ecology” (UPE) describes a critical approach to studying cities across a number of themes, ranging from more traditional environmental issues (such as climate change, air pollution, and nature conservation) to urban flows (such as sanitation and electricity provision). Many scholars believe that there is a need for a more explicitly political approach to these topics that draws attention to who wins and who loses as cities change, as well as to how urbanization as a process is shaped by power relations. These ideas informed the Urban Political Ecology in African Cities Workshop, held at the University of Pretoria in South Africa from 22 to 26 September 2014. Organized by researchers affiliated to the Situated Ecologies collective (SUPE), the workshop drew in early-career researchers to discuss critical approaches to urban environmental research, drawing on recent conversations in the literature about theory and methodology. A major concern was to discuss how the scholars and cities of Africa and the global South could more fruitfully participate […]
Designer Martín Ávila reports on his project Tactical Symbiotics. It suggests designs and uses speculative philosophy to investigates human/non-human relations to explore alternative approaches to ecological complexity and ecological crises. He will visit his co-worker Henrik Ernstson on an upcoming trip to Cape Town in December. Move beyond the comfort zone: three speculative designs During 2014 I have worked in Argentina and developed three sub-projects called Doomestics, Dispersal Machines, and Spices/Species. These projects are organized around questions such as: What if individual households would become parts of a decentred industry that capitalises on humans’ negative emotions to certain animals? What if agricultural machines would maintain the diversity of local ecosystems, helping birds and insects pollinate and fertilize, while producing food for humans? What if we could develop affection for insects and parasitoids that participate in the lifecycles of domestic plants? The projects are design-driven and uses speculative philosophy to make explicit alternative versions of the present or near future. By focusing on relations between humans and natural-artificial systems, the projects strives to de-centre anthropocentric viewpoints to become a platform from which to provoke a possibility to reimagine everyday life. Doomestics work with the tension established by the ecological need (if we are to maintain biological diversity) to cohabit […]
This workshop examines ideas of radical incrementalism across our towns and cities. It seeks to explore theories and practices that can support emancipatory change across urban regions through the power of urban dwellers to challenge poverty, oppression and unjust environments. Such actions and processes take place within and beyond the state and suggest important ways to evaluate prospects for socio-ecological equality across infrastructures, everyday life and the wider urban condition. This workshop is part of a series of conversations that form a collaborative investigation into developing situated ways of undertaking urban political ecology. Each session focuses on different dimensions of critical approaches to urban theory and brings together scholars from different disciplines whose work explores critical understandings of processes of socio-ecological urbanization. We have 17 confirmed participants who will provide a series of keynotes and shorter provocations to support the open debate nature of the workshop. Speakers include: Malini Ranganathan (American University, Washington D.C.), Mark Swilling, University of Stellenbosch, Edgar Pieterse (ACC, UCT), Laurence Piper (University of Western Cape), Andrew Charman (Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation), Jonathan Silver (Durham University), and Henrik Ernstson (ACC, UCT). — The workshop starts at 14.00 on Thursday 23rd of October with an afternoon session and keynote by Edgar Pieterse. This is followed by a full day […]
Wangui Kimari thinks across Kenya and Brazil’s experience of raids Lately a lot of people I know in Nairobi have been talking about raids. These that are most recent, and which have filled news broadcasts, are the terror-filled incursions by state forces in poor urban settlements which are conducted, supposedly, to fight terrorism. It seems to have been decided by state machineries that terror has a Somali face. The idea that structural factors of inhumane capitalist economics and racism catalyse the present insecurity is never considered. Instead, many communities, particularly in the east of the city, have to deal with soldier’s boots and guns on their doors, ransacked houses, disappearing and surveilled family members. Similarly, a lot of people I know in Brazil have been talking about raids. A couple of months ago these came in the guise of state forces ensuring security for mega-events like the World Cup and Olympics. In Rio de Janeiro, while initially asserting the need to pacify communities and engender order, these raids become long term occupations which are then normalised by government politico-business speak and the support of residents from more affluent neighbourhoods. All the same it is important to recognise that the raids in these two […]
Erin Goodling takes us to Portland and helps us think through how a situated urban political ecology approach can help theorize the dialectic of revanchism and resistance in a so called “sustainable city”. And in this post, Neil Smith is meeting AbdouMaliq Simone and Edgar Pieterse! In multiple venues, situated urban political ecology (SUPE) organizers Henrik Ernstson, Mary Lawhon, Jonathan Silver, and colleagues build on Ananya Roy (2009) (and others’) claim that urban theory can and should emanate from the Global South. The authors address the question of how new theories generated in/from/of the Global South might be enacted, pushing back against the trend of forcing Northern-generated theory into a Southern context. Specifically, they ask how urban political ecology approaches can be expanded to account for not only a broader set of cities (Lawhon, Ernstson, Silver 2014), but – especially pertinent to my own research – also a broader array of people and practices in these multiple urban contexts. I take inspiration from this question in thinking about how my very nascent dissertation research in Portland, Oregon (U.S.) might also draw on and generate contributions toward a situated urban political ecology. Portland is a city that not only sits squarely in […]
Malini Ranganathan lets us know that The School of International Service (SIS) at American University (AU) invites applications for a full- time, tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor beginning August 1, 2015. Applicants should possess a Ph.D. or the highest equivalent degree in a relevant discipline by August 2015. The position is for Assistant Professor in Global Urban Studies. We seek scholar-teachers whose work is theoretically grounded, empirically tested, and policy relevant. Candidates should demonstrate excellence in research and teaching and a commitment to university service. Candidates should also share the School’s commitment to diversity. The ideal candidate will be a scholar specializing in the study of global urbanism. Possible areas of expertise include (but are by no means limited to) rural-urban migration; urban governance, infrastructure and planning; globalization and cities; urban security, violence, and conflict; urban health; and urban informality. Geographical focus is open: we are interested in scholarship on cities in the developing world, on cities in countries with higher levels of human development, or that incorporates various forms of comparison across regions and other categories. The SIS faculty consists of a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary orientations; scholars from any relevant social science discipline are encouraged […]
Anna Zimmer gives a reflection on a recent workshop organised by Anne Rademacher & K. Sivaramakrishnan at the Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and Social Science, 9-12 June 2014. Last week, I participated in the stimulating workshop on Ecologies of Urbanism with the subtitle ‘Cities, towns, and the places of nature’ organised by Anne Rademacher & K. Sivaramakrishnan in Hong Kong, who recently also published an edited book with the title Ecologies of Urbanism in India. Now, back at my desk here in Delhi, I use the SUPE Commentary platform to reflect on this exchange from the perspective of the aim of creating a more Situated Urban Political Ecology. This reflection is necessarily partial and personal and does not do justice to the workshop as a whole but is intended as a way to share my current thought processes. Entanglements of nature and identities One convergence of the many papers centred on the entanglement of social identities and urban nature. This was expressed in a row of presentations, including the cultivation of the self in urban parks to express resistance to the secularisation of urban spaces in China (presented by Anna Greenspan and Francesca Tarrocco); the iconic role of large […]
Jonathan Silver reflects on the recent water shut offs in Detroit A police car moves toward water shut off protesters in Detroit (Picture: Detroit Water Brigade – https://twitter.com/DETWaterBrigade) You might have seen images circulating out of Detroit over the last few weeks of the unfolding humanitarian crisis. Utility company vehicles, highly weaponized police, distressed but resisting residents (often it seems from the African American community), warnings and condemnations from civil society and from the UN and the act of disconnection to that most basic of human rights, water. We’ve certainly become familiar with such images for many years now but we’ve fixed these moments in the grand neoliberal experiment in the African cities of countries such as South Africa and Nigeria (and of course the wider global South). This time though our maps of the cities of the world have been fractured, turned upside down even. For we have to leave those African neighbourhoods and cities from which we have become accustomed to seeing an ongoing war against the urban poor through controlling access to urban infrastructure services. Instead we have to take a step back into the ‘heart of empire’ to locate these moments of infrastructural conflict that challenge […]
Jonathan Silver ponders the meaning of Smart cities across urban Africa. The recent announcement by IBM establishing its twelfth global laboratory in Nairobi has followed a rise in news about Smart cities across urban Africa. These include IBM’s inclusion of Durban and Abuja in its Smarter Cities Challenge, a plethora of summits and conferences, together with planning for a series of new smart urban extensions on the periphery of major conurbations such as Accra and Kinshasa. Together these developments are generating an ever growing clamour concerning the potential of smart urbanism to transform urban Africa through the integration of digital technologies across networked infrastructures, offering resource efficiencies, global competitiveness, safer cities and ultimately much greater control over the built environment and everyday life. Such coverage is often predicated on these techno-futures enabling ways to leapfrog other global regions through next generation infrastructure and technology. The images and narratives of smart futures in cities like Rio, portrayed in endless representations through its control room, and major Northern cities such as London and New York are ubiquitous and firmly entrenched in the imaginary of policymakers and the wider public. Yet the notion of smart in urban Africa has been less visible (at least on a global level) up till now. But […]
Jochen Monstadt invites applicants to a great PostDoc opportunity at Darmstadt University of Technology at their Graduate Program on “Urban Infrastructures in Transition: The Case of African Cities”. Deadline: July 27, 2014. New Graduate Program at Darmstadt University of Technology The Graduate School for Urban Studies (URBANgrad) at Darmstadt University of Technology is currently setting up a new graduate program on urban and infrastructural change in East Africa. This interdisciplinary program is funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation and includes the following academic subjects: Spatial and Infrastructure Planning, Urban Development and Design, History of Technology, and Economic Geography and Global Studies. Within this program we are currently inviting applications for a full-time 3 year PostDoctoral position. Postdoctoral Position (full-time, 3 years) on African Urban Infrastructures in Transition The position is planned to begin in October, 2014 in the field of urban and infrastructure planning. The program “Urban Infrastructures in Transition” focuses on developments in the East-African cities of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. In particular, it highlights the history of and the current challenges posed by urban infrastructures—the supply and use of water, energy, sewerage, telecommunication, and transportation services. Within its framework, researchers critically investigate the tensions between, on the one hand, internationally circulating technological ideals and models in the […]
Urban theory is in a state of excitement—and undergoing change! Several edited books are coming out that tackles uneven development across the globe, and the planetary transformation that urbanisation is driving. Here is a selection. For any one interested, this selection provides a wealth of empirical material and theoretical insights that will be part in framing urban debates in the decades to come. Note also that three of the books is from the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, which is a great sign of how this young centre is coming together. There are certainly more books, but these represent a good start on your reading adventure: Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities Edited by Edgar Pieterse and AbdouMaliq Simone (ZED Books, 2013) In regards of theory-making around urbanisation and urbanism, perhaps the most important contribution from this book lies not in that it speaks or works from Africa (and cleverly avoids saying this in the title), but the various voices that are drawn into the conversation about how to understand and approach the city. Apart from the usual suspects of the academics and scholars, we here also have activists, architects and artists that are here speaking into urban theory. We […]
In this commentary Anna Zimmer presents her ongoing research project with Natasha Cornea and René Véron on environmental governance in Indian small cities Our project (Oct 2012-Oct 2015) focuses on the patterns and politics of environmental governance in small cities in India. So far, research on the dynamics of environmental change, urbanisation and governance in India dominantly focuses on the metropolises. Our understanding of the realities in small and medium size cities from 100,000 to 500,000 inhabitants are, in contrast, under researched. And this in spite of them housing around one fifth of India’s large and growing urban population. These cities often face tremendous environmental challenges such as water pollution, sinking groundwater tables, increasing vehicular traffic, and growing amounts of solid waste. At the same time, they are thought to have less technical and fiscal capacity to address these issues, since decentralisation of local governance and the imposition of neoliberal reforms have pushed municipalities to take over more and more responsibilities. Working through the lens of urban political ecology this project questions the patterns of environmental governance that develop in small cities, and the politics surrounding these. In order to do so, it adopts a comparative case-study approach to examine […]
Henrik Ernstson gave a key note at University of Washington on urban ecology and ‘world of cities’. A contrasting key note on a ‘science of cities’ was held by Professor Geoffrey West from the Santa Fe Institute. The seminar was organised by Professor Marina Alberti at the University of Washington to give input to the reorganisation of their PhD programme on Urban Design and Planning. This is their Annual PhD Symposium with previous speakers such as Charles “Chuck” Redman on Urban Resilience (2013) and John Friedman (2012) on “Reflections on a Life in Planning”. Below you will find the schedule for the seminar, and after that follows the opening section of Henrik Ernstson’s talk on “Re-thinking urban theory and ecological studies from a ‘world of cities’”. The talk tries out some newly developed ideas around situated urban ecological studies and was aimed to provide a different epistemological starting point — even a counter-point — to that which seems to be implied in a ‘science of cities’. There was a really good discussion afterwards with PhD students, faculty and invited others. Many thanks to Marina Alberti, Robert Mugerauer, Geoffrey West and Jean Rogers in making this great seminar possible. Overview of the seminar The 2014 […]
Here we provide final details including how to apply to the forthcoming… Urban Political Ecology in African Cities Workshop – Funded places available University of Pretoria 22-26 September 2014 WHAT? A 5 day workshop for early career researchers to discuss critical approaches to urban environmental research, drawing on recent conversations in the literature about theory and methodology. This workshop is aimed to support new ideas, research collaborations and grant applications and provide an opportunity for discussion and in-depth engagement around these issues. The workshop will include presentations by participants and established scholars including Dr Shuaib Lwasa and Professor Garth Myers, discussions, and exercises for developing critical political lenses into existing research topics. We will also have targeted discussions on establishing research partnerships, funding applications, and academic publication. WHY? As cities become increasingly significant to development and environmental crises at multiple scales, there is a growing need for research that can both contribute to theory and practice. We use the term “urban political ecology” to emphasise a particular approach to considering the city across a number of themes, ranging from more traditional environmental issues (such as climate change and air pollution) to urban flows […]
We are pleased to announce two fantastic sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014 on urban political ecology. We are excited and we warmly thank all authors for sending us their abstracts. We hope for a great meeting in London in August 2014. Below you will find all abstracts including our CFP. The session follows similar sessions at conferences in Johannesburg in March, and in Kentucky in February. Below you can read about the session and the papers. CFP: Pluralizing the approaches to urban political ecology in a ‘world of cities’ Urban political ecology has provided critical insights into the sociomaterial construction of urban environments, their unequal distribution of resources, and contestation over power and resources. Most work is rooted in Marxist urban geographical theory, typically beginning with a historical materialist theory of power, then examining particular artifacts and infrastructure to provide a dialectical critique of society. However, there are numerous theoretical framings and entry-points to unpack unequal oppressive urban environments—and their potentialities for struggle and liberation. In this RGS session, we continue our search for ways to pluralize and co-produce approaches to urban political ecology. Our own efforts has […]
*PRE-NOTICE* Details regarding application deadline and available funding will be provided as soon as possible (late May). In the meantime, we wanted to circulate this notice with existing dates and details for your planning! Urban Political Ecology in African Cities Workshop University of Pretoria 22-26 September 2014 WHY? As cities become increasingly significant to development and environmental crises at multiple scales, there is a growing need for research that can both contribute to theory and practice. We use the term “urban political ecology” to emphasise a particular approach to considering the city across a number of themes, ranging from more traditional environmental issues (such as climate change and air pollution) to urban flows (such as sanitation and electricity provision). Like many other scholars, we believe there is a need for a more explicitly political approach to these topics that draws attention to the winners and losers as cities continue to change. WHAT? A 5 day workshop to discuss critical approaches to urban environmental research, drawing on recent conversations in the literature about theory and methodology. This workshop is aimed to support new ideas, research collaborations and grant applications and provide an opportunity for discussion and in-depth engagement around these issues. The […]
SUPE Collective held our first workshop in late March at the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria. With ten participants and a fairly relaxed program over the course of the day we discussed some of the current debates in urban political ecology, what they meant for practising research in African cities and the ideas and interests of our colleagues. The workshop is the first in a series of learning opportunities we hope to provide over the next few years and we have our next one planned for later in the year, with more details to follow shortly.
We are pleased to announce our participation at the third Southern Africa City Studies conference, to be held in Johannesburg from 27th to 29th March 2014. This event builds on a series of previous conferences and workshops which have brought together people who have the CITY as an object of their research, writing, reading, theorising and practice. Previous participants have ranged from those focused on the micro-scale of particular cities to those conceptualising cities across macro-regions of the world; from those investigating the successes and failures of public policies and community plans to those shaping new forms of intervention towards the future of cities; with histories and creative practice both informing parts of the wide tableau. The 2014 Southern Africa City Studies Conference thus provides a forum for discussion across scales, fields, disciplines and practices. It encourages a sharing of the crafts of research, writing, visualising and conceptualising cities and citizens, in Southern Africa and worldwide. We hope participants will emerge from this conference – held in the twentieth year of democracy in South Africa – with their own sense of where city studies are at, now, and what are […]
Anthony Levenda reflects sensitively on how Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Urban Political Ecology (UPE) can be related towards the building of a more situated approach to urban political ecology. We met Anthony at the DOPE conference in Kentucky and this is first contribution to the SUPE Commentaries section. Please follow his lead and send in your own reflections by contacting Henrik, Mary or Jon and help build a community around this site. Read more about Anthony and other SUPE contributors here. Emplacing Urbanisms: Relocating Power and Knowledge in Urban Theory Urban political ecology exposes the structured relations of power to critique existing socio-environmental, socio-ecological, socio-metabolic process that are the foundations of urban life. In doing so it unpacks and reveals the problematics and contradictions of capitalism, the uneven geographies of urban development, and the contestations on which a radical democratic politics is predicated. But even amongst this critical agenda, there is an apparent Western bias of thought structuring our theory. These critical urban theories are based on particular ways of knowing, drawn from the thought of, as Mary Lawhon noted this past weekend at the 2014 Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference, “dead white men.” Immediately she called for thinking about […]
This week Henrik Ernstson and Sverker Sörlin from KTH, UCT, Stanford and Princeton* are organising a special session around their book project Grounding Urban Natures at the ASEH, American Society for Environmental History Conference in San Francisco, March 12-16, 2014. The book project gathers studies from 10 urban areas on different continents and aims to ground discussions of how urban natures are re-worked across various cultural and political settings, and in different historical times. At ASEH four chapters will be presented by Joshua Lewis on a study from New Orleans, USA, Lisa Hoffman on Dalian city in China, Lise Sedrez on Rio de Janeiro and Henrik Ernstson on Cape Town (the latter chapter is co-written with Andrew Karvonen with material from Seattle). Professor Richard Walker from UC Berkeley will serve as discussant, but he is also another of the chapter authors in the book. See venue and schedule for the session below. Grounding discussions of urban nature in a ‘world of cities’ A general aim of the book is to learn from different disciplines and places in order to ground a broader conversation on how to research, debate and contest the histories and futures of urban natures. More particularly the aim is to theorize how to approach and understand urban natures in a ‘world […]
Tomorrow is the start of the DOPE conference on Dimensions of Political Ecology in Lexington, KY. SUPE is organizing a special session with 8 papers from across the world (unfortunately Cameron Hu and Ilia Farhani had to cancel their participation). The session is on “Pluralizing Urban Political Ecology in a World of Cities” and gathers in-depth case studies with theoretical conversations, from Jakarta, Bangalore to New York City. This is the start of our year-long SUPE conversation on doing and studying urban political ecology in a world of cities. (DOPE conference programme, here.) As we have reported, the session will mix students and more experienced scholars, theoretical reflection and case studies. Garth MYERS pushes us to seek spatial justice in African cities and with Missaka HETTIARACHCHI we travel to urban wetlands in Kolkatta and Colombo, unpacking the political content of their governing. Lindsay CAMPBELL discusses trees and ‘green spaces’ in New York City, Malini RANGANATHAN learns from Bangalore on how to pluralize the state in urban political ecological analysis. Alec FOSTER unpacks Philadelphian urban ecologies through the notion of ‘doing identity’, and Mary LAWHON analyses media representations of environmental struggles in South Africa. Joshua COUSINS will present a broad literature review from 1965-2012 […]
The SUPE Platform is organizing a workshop for students and early career researchers just before the Southern African Cities Conference in Johannesburg. The workshop on the 26th of March explores how to do Urban Political Ecology studies in African Cities and is part of our longer initiative to build networks, skills and companionship in developing critical urban political studies in Africa. We will follow up with a longer course/workshop later this year in September in Pretoria, and we applying for funds for a similar workshop in Kampala in 2016. If you are student (PhD or Masters) or early career research, please read more on the banner below and then contact either Mary or Jon (more formally know as Dr. Mary Lawhon and Dr. Jonathan D. Silver) on their emails in the banner below, or on their profiles. Contact them as soon as possible. More details on reading etc. will be sent to you if you are accepted to this workshop. Please note that no travel grants or other financial support can be given to this workshop. However, we hope future workshops will have such possibilities in order to gather students and researchers from across the African continent. So please stay tuned […]
Henrik Ernstson reflects on the difference between “pluralizing” and “provincializing” urban political ecology. In prompting the contributors to send some bullet points in relation to our special session on “Pluralizing the Approaches to Urban Political Ecology in a ‘World of Cities’”, I made a mistake and wrote the wrong word. In my email, in which I asked them to reflect on how their paper could help to “pluralize” Urban Political Ecology (UPE), I used the word “provincialize” instead. Lindsay Campbell in New York, one of the contributors, observantly pointed this out. Using the liberty of a short blog piece, I reflect on this slippage—on the difference between pluralize and provincialize—as a precursor to our upcoming session at The Dimension of Political Ecology conference (DOPE), Kentucky, USA, 28 Feb-1 March. While provincializing has been inscribed in a quite clear tradition of postcolonial critique, in particular by historian Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “Provincializing Europe” (2000), the word pluralizing has a less recorded academic usage. In its most straightforward reading, our session is about how one could arrive at a political reading of urban ecologies and urban environments, beyond those approaches already in use. To pluralize then is to allow for more ways of achieving a […]
Announcing 8 Doctoral Fellowships “Urban Infrastructures in Transition: The Case of African Cities” The Graduate School for Urban Studies (URBANgrad) from Darmstadt University of Technology announces eight doctoral fellowships, beginning October 1, 2014. We welcome applications from students with a master’s degree interested in joining a new graduate program on urban and infrastructural change in East Africa. This interdisciplinary program is funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation and includes the following academic subjects: Spatial and Infrastructure Planning, Urban Development and Design, History of Technology, and Economic Geography and Global Studies. The program “Urban Infrastructures in Transition” focuses on developments in the East-African cities of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. In particular, it highlights the history of and the current challenges posed by urban infrastructures—the supply and use of water, energy, sewerage, and telecommunication services. Within its framework, researchers critically investigate the tensions between, on the one hand, internationally circulating technological ideals and models in the planning, design and construction of cities (especially those of the networked city) and, on the other hand, local processes of appropriation and modification. Studies on the Tanzanian and Kenyan cities are carried out with […]
We have created a SUPE email list for those interested in participating in sharing their ideas on how to pluralize the approaches to urban political ecology in a ‘world of cities’. The discussion list was before called ‘African UPE’ but in recognising the broader parameters of the intellectual and action-oriented project that SUPE is part of, we have re-named this email list to “Situated UPE”. This recognises the on-going intellectual ‘traffic’ between researchers, political organisers and activists that are located in different regions of the world that has experienced different forms and types of urbanisation. If you like to discuss and share your experience on what it can mean to pluralize the approaches to study urban political ecologies in a ‘world of cities’. Please join this email list by sending an email to us at join_supe_list AT situatedecologies.net
Two top geographic journals have posted links to their articles dealing with South Africa—before and after Apartheid—in remembrance of the death of the freedom fighter and first black South African president Nelson Mandela, both including articles by our own Mary Lawhon. Society and Space: Environment and Planning D headlines Post-apartheid geographies – a virtual theme issue and writes: The global outpouring of grief for this ‘giant of history’, as Barack Obama has called [Nelson Mandela], is simply extraordinary. Amidst the sadness, of course, there has been a deluge of commentary on Mandela’s legacy. Along with commemoration, there has been much critical reflection on the contradictions, exclusions, and disappointments of the post-apartheid era that he, among many others, shepherded into being and indelibly impacted. They continue: As Slavoj Zizek asserts in a commentary for the Mail and Guardian, “if we want to remain faithful to Mandela’s legacy, we should…forget about celebratory crocodile tears and focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to.” The boos that met current South African President Jacob Zuma when he took the stage at Mandela’s memorial exemplify this statement’s potency. Articles being placed into this virtual special issue includes articles from 1989 and early 1990s by Susan Parnell, Jennifer Robinson, […]
We are very glad to have 10 papers from across the world for our special session on “Pluralizing Urban Political Ecology in a World of Cities” at DOPE 2014. DOPE is The Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference in Lexington, KY, February 27 – March 1. The session will gather in-depth case studies with theoretical conversations, from Jakarta, Teheran, Bangalore to New York City. A great start for our year-long SUPE conversation on doing and studying urban political ecology. The session will mix students and more experienced scholars, theoretical reflection and case studies. Garth MYERS pushes us to seek spatial justice in African cities and with Missaka HETTIARACHCHI we travel to urban wetlands in Kolkatta and Colombo, unpacking the political content of their governing. Lindsay CAMPBELL discusses trees and ‘green spaces’ in New York City, Cameron HU works through the historical ontologies of Jakarta, and Malini RANGANATHAN learns from Bangalore on how to pluralize the state in urban political ecological analysis. Ilia FARAHANI brings an intriguing case study that combines gentrification and metabolism to analyze a working-class neighborhood in Teheran, Alec FOSTER unpacks Philadelphian urban ecologies through the notion of ‘doing identity’, and Mary LAWHON analyses media representations of environmental struggles in South Africa. Joshua COUSINS will present a broad literature review from 1965-2012 on different theoretical takes on urban metabolism. Henrik ERNSTSON opens the session by provincializing Urban […]
In this commentary Sophie Schramm explains her new research with Jochen Monstadt on the infrastructural ideal in African cities Translating urban infrastructure ideals and planning models: adaptation and creativity in water and sanitation systems in African cities. The research project is part of a wider programme that focuses on the transfer and thereby translation of internationally circulating ideals, theories and technologies. Our project focuses on the translation and creative adaptation of circulating urban and infrastructure ideals and models in the African cities Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Accra (Ghana) and Nairobi (Kenya) and the way they shape the respective water and sanitation infrastructure regimes. Currently, our work concentrates on the in-depth case study Dar es Salaam and will later focus on the reference cities Nairobi and Accra. In Dar es Salaam, the economic downturn since the 1970s became manifest in the provision of urban services and the condition of urban infrastructure artifacts and networks. Nowadays urban growth is coupled with economic growth while the provision of basic services remains instable, fragmented and contested within the urban realm. This situation is not in accord with the modern ideal of the “networked city”, which assumes that urban sociotechnical water and sanitation systems are […]
Jonathan Silver argues that carbon financing for cities is flawed and is failing to support urban Africa in addressing climate change and development imperatives. At the recent ICLEI Local Climate Solutions conference in Dar es Salaam the Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal addressed the assembled participants at the opening plenary. He argued that the global response to climate change must be fair, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities that would put the emphasis on industrialised countries to finance a low carbon urban future and support the decoupling of growth from carbon and wider resource intensity in African cities. Yet these commonly held views on the continent and beyond seem to be having little effect on the slow, painful process of financing low carbon infrastructures and a green economy in Africa. As speakers at the conference and a burgeoning body of research are pointing out African cities are on the frontline of climate change dynamics, have contributed little to historic Green House Gas emissions and face multiple infrastructural pressures across an urbanizing region. This climate change driven, energy, resource and development crisis is not some imagined future but rather taking place in the here and now. Reflecting on these relationships […]
James Evans focuses on boda-boda motorcycle taxis in Uganda to ask how current thinking in Geography might help us re-think the role of informal transport in achieving more inclusive and sustainable urban development. This is of crucial concern as unregulated transport is vital to billions living with poor road access in the Global South, yet is increasingly marginalised in transport policies intended to modernise cities. It is impossible to visit the Global South without being struck by the variety of transport at street level. Rickshaws, tuk-tuks, jeepneys, minibuses and bikes appear in all sorts of motorised and non-motorised forms across cities in Asia, Africa and South America. Kampala, the rapidly growing capital of Uganda, is no exception. Synonymous with its unregulated army of motorcycle taxis, so-called boda-bodas dodge and weave through the congested streets and alleys with passengers clinging on to the driver. Boda-boda taxis are part of African bicycle culture, originating as a way to cross the Kenyan-Ugandan border in the 1960s and subsequently spreading through East Africa as an industry with relatively cheap entry costs for migrants. In 2010 the Kampala Boda-Boda Association estimated that there were upwards of 200,000 boda riders and 5,000 stages (stops) serving […]
The first time I realised there was something funny going on was when we were discussing shebeens- informal drinking spaces usually found in townships. I asked my students “where do you find shebeens” and they answered “in the rural areas”. It threw me. In the moment, I didn’t realise what they meant, but figured the students just didn’t quite understand what I meant. We agreed on the townships as a key location and moved on. Then I graded their first test. Many of the students, without prompting, referred to the townships as “rural areas”. And for the first time, I really started to get some of the concerns that Southern urbanists have raised about Southern cities not being “real” cities. My students thought the same thing- that the formerly white parts of the metropolis were the real city. And despite higher densities in the township, it didn’t really count. Curious, I asked them in class what “city” meant to them. Of course, they’d been taught textbook definitions at the beginning of the class, but had long rejected density and urbanity in favour.I admit, I hadn’t really planned what to do next. What I wanted was to get on my soap box, tell them […]
During November Jonathan Silver will be undertaking new research as part of his role in the LSE Cities ‘Urban Uncertainty‘ project. Below he gives a brief commentary of the work. This work aims to examine the challenge of securing the necessary financing for infrastructure investment in small- and medium-sized cities, such as Mbale, Uganda. Since the establishment of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), carbon markets are supposed to be an important pathway through which municipalities like Mbale seek to connect into flows of finance for infrastructure investment. Yet carbon trading has been criticized by a growing coalition of NGOs, activists and scholars who suggest that a global climate change strategy based on market mechanisms is predicated on a series of problematic framings of the “environment,” the “market,” and the “globe.” The research seeks to explore the tensions, uncertainties and contradictions inherent to carbon financing models such as the CDM through a detailed investigation of one particular clean development investment in Mbale: a waste-to-compost facility designed to aid waste management in the city and support wider mitigation efforts. Examining the multiple and multi-scalar uncertainties involved in such a project—from speculative markets for carbon through to the experiences of displaced waster pickers—the […]
Mary Lawhon teaches urban geography at University of Pretoria. In this first of a mini-series of commentaries Mary reflects on the experience of teaching her first undergraduate module. I’m in the middle of teaching my first urban geography course in the global South. I inherited half of the 14 week class too late to change the textbook, but with some flexibility about how to teach it. At first, I thought the text was going to be a pretty big stumbling block. Not just because my skin prickled when I read in the table of contents that the second half of the book was dedicated to “Third World Cities”. Silver lining, at least the global South gets mentioned, if not by a name I could feel comfortable using in class. But even as I began hunting for a text to supplement and/or use next year, I struggled. These days, it seems many texts have special sections on the global South, and there is even a reader coming out in 2014 about cities in the South. It seems we have “won” the fight to include Southern cities in the texts, but I’m stuck mulling over whether this division is really what we […]
Rethinking urban ecologies of the global South We’ve have just published a new article in the geography journal Antipode on “Provincializing Urban Political Ecology: Towards a Situated UPE Through African Urbanism“. In this article we argue that the ecologies being shaped through the new and rapidly emergent forms of urbanization that we witness in the global South and developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America provide both opportunities and challenges to how we theorize the urban. It requires both a better understanding of the biophysical systems in these places, but also a greater attention to everyday informal activities and how power and decision-making operates in these cities. The paper argues that although frameworks like those of Urban Political Ecology (UPE) have provided great tools during the last decade, these are based on the experience of EuroAmerican urbanization and focus on networked infrastructure systems like water, sanitation and electricity. Jonathan Silver states that “To use a particular framing of infrastructure as a lens made sense in New York, London or Stockholm. Here the modernist promise of urbanization of universal access was strong. But in cities like Lagos or Kampala this would fail to account for many experiences and actors that shape the city and who […]
Henrik Ernstson takes a look at a cultural mobilization against a backdrop of contestation in one part of Cape Town. This Saturday, on September 28, 2013, Emile YX? and his multiple crews of dancers and rappers will again mobilize to stop a shopping mall from being built at Princess Vlei, a park and wetland in Cape Town, South Africa. Just as they did for the first time a year ago on June 16, 2012 on Youth Day. Since their last appearance, Emile YX? and the group Mixed Mense has released a collection of songs all tuned into struggle. One soft-singing tune with hard-spoken words will most certainly be popular at the Vlei on Saturday. “Save Princess Vlei—No Mall” is a song in direct defense of the Vlei where the lyrics melts memories of apartheid geographies with a proud Coloured, Khoi and Black identity to create a voice that points out how strongly loaded with politics and deep difference Capetonian urban nature inherently is: “They again attend to mall and rape us. From our legacy and common ancestry. Here they plan to concrete away our memory. The enemy, a dictatorship disguised as a democracy, a corporate mockery stealing people’s property. […] Stolen land is […]
A new book is out from Julian Agyeman that should be of interest to a broad audience, from urban sociologists, geographers, planners and activists, and their combinations! Read more here. Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning, and Practice Julian Agyeman This unique and insightful text offers an exploration of the origins and subsequent development of the concept of just sustainability.Introducing Just Sustainabilities discusses key topics, such as food justice, sovereignty and urban agriculture; community, space, place(making) and spatial justice; the democratization of our streets and public spaces; how to create culturally inclusive spaces; intercultural cities and social inclusion; green-collar jobs and the just transition; and alternative economic models, such as co-production. With a specific focus on solutions-oriented policy and planning initiatives that specifically address issues of equity and justice within the context of developing sustainable communities, this is the essential introduction to just sustainabilities.
Mary Lawhon has produced a book review for the geography journal Antipode for the forthcoming book Afropolis: City/Media/Art which has been formed as a catalogue for the travelling exhibition. The exhibition is described on its website (http://www.afropolis.net/) as… The curatorial approach highlights the interconnectedness of scientific and artistic concepts, not only exploring urban histories and recent developments,but also presenting 30 artistic viewpoints on issues of urbanity about and from these five cities. The result is a remarkable synergy of scientific and artistic research, documentary material and artistic reflection. The works shown in Afropolis include graphic arts, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, film and video art, as well as design, comics and weblogs. You can read the review here: http://radicalantipode.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/book-review_lawhon-on-pinther-et-al.pdf