Africa Day at AAME
Next Wednesday, 18 October, there will be two research talks from AAME members. Julia Gallagher will talk about her work on architecture and statehood in South Africa at 12.00 and Thomas Stubbs will talk about urban slum development in Rwanda and Kenya at 4.30.
Both talks take place in Founders, FW101. All welcome.
Reading the South African state in its architecture, Julia Gallagher
My current research project tries to read how a state works through a study of its buildings. This includes how they were designed and built, how they are used, their aesthetics and how they are experienced by the citizens who live with them. In this talk I discuss how a study of state buildings can reveal the ideas and the mechanics of statehood through an exploration of three South African state buildings - the Constitutional Court, the Johannesburg Central Police Station and the Union Building. I explore ways of reading buildings through senses and imagination, I discuss the possibilities of an ‘aesthetics of statehood’ and I advance an understanding of statehood rooted in ideas of the tension between primordial violence and civilisation
Cities without slums? The political economy of urban development in Kigali and Nairobi, Thomas Stubbs
Over the past two decades, Kenya and Rwanda have experienced some of the highest rates of urban population growth in the world, a trend that has been accompanied by the rapid proliferation of slums. While Kenya’s dysfunctional urbanism typifies that of the region, Rwanda has emerged as an internationally revered ‘model case’ for aspirant states in sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing both on cross-national regressions and findings from 70 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in Kigali and Nairobi (capital and primate cities of the respective countries), I argue that the extent to which these nations adopt the urban governance orthodoxy propagated by Western-based organisations explains this variation in recent slum performance. Kenya's urban governance approach typifies this orthodoxy: a participatory, pro-capitalist approach with a nightwatchman state subordinated to the neo-colonising force of Western-based organisations. Rwanda offers a radical alternative: a top-down, interventionist approach featuring a developmental-yet-totalitarian state that resists neo-colonising forces. At the theoretical level, I ultimately challenge the prevailing wisdom that had erstwhile based explanations of slum proliferation on a narrowly conceived economistic-cum-demographic determinism, neglecting the incisive role of the state. At the policy level, I offer support for greater developmental policy space on the challenge of urban population growth to be afforded to sub-Saharan African countries to allow indigenous solutions to emerge.