Photo: Urban Development and Planning in Africa students explore Woodstock one of Cape Town’s distinct neighbourhoods.
This course explores the challenges and opportunities of African urban development, taking a close look at planning cities on the continent through intensive field engagement with sites in Cape Town while drawing critically on lessons from elsewhere in Africa.
In order to understand contemporary African cities, we examine histories of development and inequality, and contemporary dynamics in making, transforming, and managing cities. Through the work of major urban scholars – many from Africa themselves – and 5 field trips around Cape Town, we explore some of the ideologies, economic activities, and social relations through which cities are developed and planned today. Overall, the course aims to develop critical comparative thinking about urban processes in different parts of the African continent today.
The course begins with a broad introduction to regional patterns of key urban trends across Africa. We then narrow our focus to the historical legacies of colonialism, and then apartheid in the South African city. We explore how segregation continues to be built into the city through enclave and fortress spaces. We look at how division and difference in the city can be contested – and emancipatory spaces opened – as well as how the South African city is governed, secured, branded, and projected for future development. We take an especially close look at how Cape Town has attempted to represent itself as a world-class, high-design, liveable city, and participated in the pursuit of megaevents and other ways of placing itself “on the map” as an African metropolis of a very particular kind.
In the second half of the course turns to examples of African urban development from across the continent in order to deepen understanding of diverse local experiences and experiments. We first survey a range of African development “alternatives,” then closely examine a series of regional cases outside of southern Africa: (1) West African cities, (2) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and (3) an emerging ensemble of development sites known as “the East African corridor.” Although we cultivate detailed case-based knowledge, we always focus on comparisons and potential applicability of lessons across other African cities.
In total, this course assembles a range of disciplinary perspectives – from geography, history, sociology, and urban studies – in order to delve into contemporary African urban development and planning. We take full advantage of our location in South Africa to provide field-based lessons, but we also aim to draw connections and comparisons by using wider theoretical frames as well. This enables us to analyze sites that may be geographically distant yet worth thinking about together -- to reconsider linkages between them, and bring them into larger discussions about transforming space, economy, and society in urban Africa today.
Video: 'We use Cape Town as a space to explore and think critically about a number of issues." Dr Ryan Centner, Assistant Professor of Urban Geography at LSE discusses this exciting course.
Click here to see the full course outline