(Not) the State in African Urban Development Politics Stream at ASAUK24
Posted on 7th November, 2023 in News
(Not) the State in African Urban Development Politics
Rosina Essien (University of Ghana), Matt Lane (University of Edinburgh) and Jennifer Robinson (University College London)
This proposed session invites papers which explore the role of individual state actors, government ministries and institutions, city level government and their agencies, state-owned enterprises and electoral parties in shaping urban development. In wider social science discussions these actors and institutions have been analytically bundled as “states”, but in African studies the nature of statehood and public authority has long been seen as emergent and negotiated, or a “twilight” phenomenon across government, communal and private interests, as well as international actors. State actors have also been portrayed as vectors of a multiplicity of personal and political interests. At stake in urban developments are also the politics of (de-)centralisation of governmental powers. Even as international actors see scope for reinforcing city governments as agents in urban development, urban development programmes attract the involvement of central state actors eager to benefit from the flow of funds and prestige. Many countries have therefore seen a (perverse) centralisation of government control following a roll-out of urban initiatives. What conceptual resources can assist in characterising these multi-scalar and emergent forms of the politics of urban development. Can terms such as ”urban state”, or “transcalar territorial networks” help in conceptualising the complexity of actors, institutions, interests, their varying reach and interactions which give shape to urban development?
The session invites detailed case studies of the politics of urban development such as large-scale infrastructure, major real estate developments, investments for resilience, new cities, peripheral sprawl, displaced urbanisation or infrastructure-led developments. Papers could address questions concerning the forms of emergent or de facto arrangements for regulation, design and implementation; the nature of interactions amongst different actors in determining urban development outcomes; shifts in agency between international, national (ministries, entities) and local actors e.g. in financing development; the role of electoral cycles or direct political influence on developments.
Please send proposals for papers and panels to Rosina Essien (firstname.lastname@example.org)