1st Edition

Africa and Urban Anthropology Theoretical and Methodological Contributions from Contemporary Fieldwork

Edited By Deborah Pellow, Suzanne Scheld Copyright 2023
    540 Pages 51 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers valuable anthropological insight into urban Africa, covering a range of cities across a continent that has become one of the fastest urbanizing geographic areas of the globe.

    Consideration is given to the structures, social formations, and rhythms that constitute the definition of an African city, town, or urban space, and to current concepts for thinking about African cities in the twenty-first century. The contributors examine topics including notions of belonging, the effects of globalization, colonialism, and transnationalism on African urban life, the cultural dimensions of infrastructure and public resources, mobility, labor issues, spatial organization, language, and popular culture trends, among other themes.

    The book reflects on how the ethnography of urban Africa fits within anthropology and urban studies, and on new theoretical concepts and methodologies that can be created through anthropological fieldwork in African cities. It will be of particular interest to scholars and students from anthropology, African studies and urban studies, as well as sociology and geography.

    Part I: Introduction

    1 Introduction

    Deborah Pellow and Suzanne Scheld

    Part II. Knowing the City and Urban Imaginaries

    2 Kafanchan: A Nigerian Town and its Global Horizons

    Ulf Hannerz

    3 Beyond the Rhodes Livingstone-Institute. Anthropological Research in Urban Africa from the 1930s to the 2000s

    Katja Werthmann

    4 Seeing the African Urban: Toward a Visual Anthropology of African Cities

    Danny Hoffman

    5 Mediated Ethnography: Images, Infrastructure, and New Imaginaries in Urban Africa

    William Bissell

    6 Class, Cities, and the Multiple-Disposition Habitus: Theoretical Insights from an African City

    Anne Lewinson

    Part III. Urban Spaces

    7 South Sudan, Politics of Liberation and Contest Over Juba

    Jok Madut Jok

    8 Manantali, Mali: Urbanization in and around a Small Town in the West Africa Savanna

    Dolores Koenig

    9 Place-Making, Regulatory Politics, and the Roots of Informality in Colonial Accra

    Jennifer Hart

    10 Schubart Park: Spatializing Opportunity in Colonial and Postcolonial South Africa

    William Suk

    11 On ‘Worlding’ Urban Ethnography: Conceptualizing Scalar Reconfigurations in an Ethiopian Frontier City

    Daniel K. Thompson, Jemal Yusuf Mahamed, and Kader Mohamoud

    Part IV. Urban Infrastructure and Mobility

    12 The Infrastructure of Submarine Urbanism: Zanzibar in a Black and Blue World

    Garth Myers

    13 Temporalities of Absence: Infrastructural Politics and Time in Cape Town’s Informal Settlements

    Angela Storey

    14 Sorting ‘Wire Spaghetti’ in Zanzibar Stone Town

    Rose Marie Beck

    15 Modernity and the Art of Motorcycle Citizenship: Getting to Work in Nigeria’s Planned Capital

    Rudolf Gaudio

    Part V. Power of Urban Belongingness

    16 We Were Running and Running: Rural-Urban Imaginaries and Strategic Mobility During the Liberian Civil War

    Mary H. Moran

    17 Reclaiming Citizenship: The Performance and Contestation of the Rural-Urban Distinction in Northern Ghana

    Saida Hodžić

    18 Religious Relevance Capital; the Urban Anthropology of Religious Diversity and the Significance of Social Support. The Case of Urban Religion in Botswana

    Rijk van Dijk

    19 Property, Mobility, and Belonging in an African Metropolis

    Matthew Nesvet

    Part VI. Language and the City

    20 Urban Surfaces and Linguistic Landscape: Writing, Power and Ideology in Dakar’s Public Space

    Fiona McLaughlin

    21 Naming the Future in Urban Niger: The Scriptural Economy of the Fadas

    Adeline Masquelier

    22 Igboro ni mo wa: Popular Linguistic Innovation in Urban Yoruba Lives

    Augustine Agwuele

    Part VII. Conclusion

    23 Conclusion


    Abdoumaliq Simone


    Deborah Pellow is a Professor Emerita in the Anthropology Department in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, New York, USA.

    Suzanne Scheld is a Professor in the Anthropology Department at California State University, Northridge, USA.