Call for Papers: 12th International Conference on Urban History in Lisbon

12th International Conference on Urban History in Lisbon, Portugal (EAUH 2014), Session 62.

A Multitude of ‘In-Betweens’ in African Urban Spaces

For quite some years now, scholars working on the 20th century history of architecture and urban planning are including non-Western regions. And as the literature is growing, we are getting insight on how urban spaces have been conceived and planned in hitherto neglected regions, among which Africa. In this session, however, we start from the observation that, although many (post-)colonial imaginings were falsely claimed to be realized, often a wide gap exists between the theory of urban design, with its corresponding discourse, and the actually-realised landscape. ‘In-between’ plan and implementation frequently a myriad of intricate and complex processes occurred, often literally resulting in ‘in-between spaces’.

We welcome proposals that will expand on these multitude of in-betweens in African urban spaces. Although we look for papers that explicitly address the very spatiality, both in terms of conception and realization, of this gap between (post-)colonial plan and implementation for all kind of projects, ranging from architecture to urban planning as well as engineering and infrastructure, a wide range of in-betweens may be touched upon: discrepancies between (post-)colonial ideologies and urban planning models – often a metropolitan or foreign creation; the site-relatedness in each territory; the influence of world events; the different points of view at the institutional level; and last but not least, the agency of local actors – including processes of appropriation and re-appropriation of  urban spaces.

The ‘in-between spaces’ resulting from the incomplete or partial implementation of plans may be approached from a historical perspective, as well as by tracing back from contemporary urban spaces in African cities. Essentially defined by an intermingling of the built and the unbuilt, the rural and the urban, the formal and the informal, the African and the European, the desired and the undesired, an urban void and a dynamic state of flux, these ‘in-between spaces’ can be considered as intermediate (or hybrid) spaces, mediating between various places, times and ideologies. We specifically invite papers that elaborate on this conception of the ‘in-between space’, as we believe that this may help us to tackle traditional dichotomies, so common in the research on African cities, and enable us to capture more accurately the diversity and complexity of African urban spaces.

Keywords: Africa; Urban Spaces; In-Between

Period: 19th Century – 20th Century
Type: Specialist Session

Session organizer(s):
Luce Beeckmans (Belgium) - Ghent University
Liora Bigon (Israel) - Holon Institute of Technology

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