Lessons from Postcolonialism for Urban Africa and Global Urban Studies
Wednesday, 27th January 2021 @ 1:00 PM GMT
Join us for another webinar, we are excited to have you. The webinar will be presented by Prof. Garth Myers


Description of the webinar:  This talk is derived from my book, Rethinking Urbanism. I build on the opening toward re-centering global urban studies, through engagement with postcolonialism. Postcolonialism, as Tariq Jazeel (2019: 5-6) has written, is a ‘mode of intellectual work’ pushing ‘past and beyond the condition of coloniality in its widest sense’. I explore using ideas from a Caribbean postcolonial writer, Martinican poet Edouard Glissant, to re-describe urban development in Zanzibar, Tanzania, with a focus on its urban landscape and on its own writers and cultural analysts. Postcolonialism is sometimes now seen as ‘somewhat passé’ since ‘we no longer live in an age of empires and nor can we bask in the celebratory, grand narratives of decolonization’, as Jyotsna Singh (2017: 2) put it. Through borrowing from Glissant, I believe postcolonial urban studies can provide means for seeing ‘how subordinated social groups oppose… the vision’ of urbanism provided by colonial mindsets, but also how they ‘take up’ that vision, in the words of Ananya Roy (2011: 312). I make this case based out of historical, archival and ethnographic research as well as literary analysis. The book’s larger argument contends that if there is something called planetary urbanization happening in the 21st century, then it is happening in the global South, and perhaps especially in Sub-Saharan Africa’s cities; we must not simply explore the global-South empirical dynamics of this planetary urbanization with global North toolkits, but with the thoughts and perspectives of ‘Southern’ scholars and ordinary residents.

About the speakers:

Prof. Garth Myers is Director of the Center for Urban & Global Studies and the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. He focuses on African urban geography and planning, comparative urbanism, and urban political ecology. He has published five books and more than 75 book chapters and articles on these themes. The books include Verandahs of Power (Syracuse, 2003), Disposable Cities (Ashgate, 2005), African Cities (Zed, 2011), Urban Environments in Africa (Policy, 2016), and Rethinking Urbanism (Bristol, 2020). He has co-edited Cities in Contemporary Africa (with Martin Murray, Palgrave, 2006) and Environment at the Margins (with Byron Caminero-Santangelo, Ohio, 2011). Most of his research has focused on urban development in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, with primary emphasis on Zanzibar. From 2004 to 2011, he served as Director of the Kansas African Studies Center at the University of Kansas.

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