Street-Naming Cultures in Africa and Israel
Power Strategies and Place-Making Practices
- Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 7, 2021
This book is focused on the street naming politics, policies and practices that have been shaping and reshaping the semantic, textual and visual environments of urban Africa and Israel. Its chapters expand on prominent issues such as the importance of extra-formal processes such as naming reception and unofficial toponymies, naming decolonisation, place attachment, place making, and the materiality of street signage. By this, the book directly contributes to the mainstreaming of Africa’s toponymic cultures in recent critical place-names studies. Unconventionally and experimentally, comparative glimpses are made throughout between toponymic experiences of African and Israeli cities, exploring pioneering issues in the overwhelmingly Eurocentric research tradition. The latter tends to be concentrated on Europe and North America, to focus on nationalistic ideologies and regime change, and to over-rely on top-down ‘mere’ mapping and street indexing. This volume is also unique in incorporating a rich and stimulating variety of visual evidence from a wide range of African and Israeli cities. The materiality of street signage signifies the profound and powerful connections between structured politics, current mundane practices, historical traditions, and subaltern cultures.
Street-Naming Cultures in Africa and Israel is an important contribution to urban studies, toponymic research and African studies, for scholars and students.
Table of Contents
List of figures
About the authors
Foreword by Frédéric Giraut
1. Introduction: Toponymic cultures and the study of place naming in
African (and Israeli) contexts
Conceptualising toponymic cultures: Why, what for, and how?
Mainstreaming Africa in critical toponymy scholarship: Issues and challenges
The formal tree and the informal forest
Deprovincialising Africa’s toponymic studies
Joining global conversations
2. Names in the city: Street signage in urban Africa and Israel
Panel I ‒ Brazzaville/Holon: Visual and conceptual connections
Panel II ‒ (Post-)colonial ideologies and signage: A top-down view
Panel III ‒ Reshaping the public space: Bottom-up responses
Panel IV ‒ The politics of street numbering
Panel V ‒ Signs and the sense of place
Panel VI ‒ Signage in neoliberal times
Panel VII ‒ Fading and perishable street signs
Panel VIII ‒ What’s your address? Living with no street signs
3. A Tale of two Brazzas: Intertwining (post-)colonial namescapes
The state of study and Holon’s (inspiring) mistake
The two Brazzas intertwined
4. Beyond street names: A tapestry of toponymic legacies in Dakar, Senegal
Naming the streets: Making the city French
Changing places, keeping the names: Vernacular toponymy in the colonial context
Street re-naming: A postcolonial debate and its limits
Beyond street names: Broader dynamics of toponymic change
5. An off-the-grid toponymic ambiguity at the heart of a world city: The case of Givat Amal, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv as a world city with a ‘hot’ toponymic ambiance
From a world city to a colonial city: Constructing informality and subalternity
through title-to-land, infrastructure and place naming
Givat Amalʼs toponymy of the everyday: Politics and kinetics
Toponymic imaginary: correspondence from above
Toponymic imaginary: correspondence from below
6. Conclusion: The worldling of toponymic legacies
Liora Bigon (PhD in Architecture, the University of Manchester) is an urban (planning) historian. She specializes in (post-) colonial urban history and planning cultures in sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on West Africa. A senior staff member in Holon Institute of Technology, she has published widely in these fields. Her latest book ‒ Grid Planning in the Urban Design Practices of Senegal (with Prof. E. Ross, Springer, 2020) – included an in-situ survey in a dozen important Senegalese Sufi urban localities.
Michel Ben Arrous is an architect by training (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL) and a doctor in geography (PhD, Université de Rouen). North-Africa born, he served as a journalist in Southern and West Africa prior to a long companionship with CODESRIA (the Dakar-based Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa). He has lectured and published extensively on the history of geographic ideas and fantasies, in their relation to citizenship crises, media and conflict, urban cultures and the production of space and place.
"Street-Naming Cultures in Africa and Israel is an insightful, analytically rigorous and theoretically fluent comparative examination of the toponymic processes that link Africa and Israel – and France ‒ within broader semantic, textual and visual urban practices. The range, breadth and depth of the chapters and the elegance of the language provide an exceptional concreteness to cross-systemic analysis of street naming."
Professor Wale Adebanwi, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, Oxford University, UK
"This valuable and unique contribution to critical place-name studies upends longstanding Eurocentrism in the field of toponymy in its empirical sites for comparison and its approach. It brings the discourses around street-naming alive, analytically, visually and culturally. The analysis is cogent and the juxtapositions both novel and striking."
Professor Garth Myers, Trinity College Hartford, CT, USA
"Liora Bigon and Michel Ben Arrous offer here a lively, knowledgeable and pleasant back-door entry into the contemporary city. By taking us through the logics of place-naming, both of official decision-makers and of people’s practices, they make us hear many of the voices that shape the lived city experience. Deep down, the authors show that the polynomy of places in Africa as well as in Israel is at the same time a journey, an invitation, and an encyclopaedia in the making."
Profssor Doutor César Cumbe, Universidade Pedagógica, Maputo, Mozambique
"This excellent book provides a much-needed focus on non-western politics of urban naming through detailed and fascinating case studies of cities in Israel and Africa. It highlights the entanglements of people and things, as well as the contentious and convoluted histories, which characterise the process of naming. It is a book that should provide inspiration to all scholars interested in urban politics and history."
Professor Rhys Jones, Aberystwyth University, UK