Nearly fifty percent of Africa's population now lives in urban areas. By 2050 this number is expected to triple to 1.23 billion or what will then be sixty percent of the continent's total population. This urban growth is happening alongside rapid economic expansion, technological innovations, and-in some cities-political insurrection. Many of these developments are taking place in peripheral urban areas that lack formal planning, basic infrastructure, and security. Yet, as many theorists point out, the very lack of cohesive planning and stable infrastructure in urban Africa has produced flexible spaces where novel forms of dwelling, work, and leisure are possible. Many residents, often by necessity, rearrange their built environments to make the city function beyond the limits of its original design. In the process, urban dwellers produce new built spaces, aesthetics, and economic practices, calling into question assumptions about what a city is and how it works. What are the implications of Africa's urban revolution for both the people who inhabit these cities and the world at large? How will Africa's urban future shape what some theorists are calling "the African century?" What can contemporary cities across the continent tell us about the future of urban life everywhere? In this seminar, we will explore these questions by surveying a variety of case studies and topics from across the African continent. The purpose in focusing on Africa in general is not to homogenize an incredibly diverse continent, but to make connections across a variety of different contexts in order to explore conceptual debates and assemble a theoretical tool-kit that is useful for grappling with themes that are simultaneously abstract and concrete.
For AFAS majors, this course counts as Area Requirement 4.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU IS; AS LCD; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC