The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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Capital cities today remain central to both nations and states. They host centres of political power, not only national, but in some cases regional and global as well, thus offering major avenues to success, wealth and privilege. For these reasons capitals simultaneously become centres of 'counter-power', locations of high-stakes struggles between the government and the opposition.

This volume focuses on capital cities in nine sub-Saharan African countries, and traces how the power vested in them has evolved through different colonial backgrounds, radically different kinds of regimes after independence, waves of popular protest, explosive population growth and in most cases stunted economic development. Starting at the point of national political emancipation, each case study explores the complicated processes of nation-state building through its manifestation in the 'urban geology' of the city its architecture, iconography, layout and political use of urban space. Although the evolution of each of these cities is different, they share a critical demographic feature: an extraordinarily rapid process of urbanisation that is more politically than economically driven. Overwhelmed by the inevitable challenges resulting from this urban sprawl, the governments seated in most of these capital cities are in effect both powerful wielding power over their populace and powerless, lacking power to implement their plans and to provide for their inhabitants.

In its concentration on urban forms of multi-layered power, symbolic as well as material, Capital Cities in Africa cuts a new path in the rich field of studies related to African cities and politics. It will be of interest to scholars in a wide range of disciplines, from political history, to sociology, to geography, architecture and urban planning.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 240mm x 168mm (Soft Cover)
Pages : 264
ISBN 10 : 978-07969-2350-9
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2350-9
Publish Year : 2011

Tables and figures
Acronyms and abbreviations
Preface

  1. Introduction (Simon Bekker and Göran Therboro
  2. Conakry (Odile Goerg)
  3. Dakar (Amadou Diop)
  4. Lomé (Philippe Gervais-Lambony)
  5. Lagos (Laurent Fourchard)
  6. Abuja (Wale Adebanwi)
  7. Brazzaville (Gabriel Tati)
  8. Nairobi (Samuel Owuor and Teresa Mbatia)
  9. Maputo and Luanda (Paul Jenkins)
  10. South African capital cities (Alan Mabin)
  11. Conclusion (Gran Therborn and Simon Bekker)

Contributors
Index

Simon Bekker is a South African sociologist who has served as Professor of Development Studies at Rhodes University, and as Director of the Centre for Social and Development Studies at the (then) University of Natal. He is currently Emeritus Professor in Sociology at the University of Stellenbosch.

Göran Therborn is an international Swedish sociologist who has served as Professor of Sociology at Cambridge and Uppsala Universities, as Professor of Politics in Nijmegen Netherlands, and as co-Director of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences. He has launched a globally comparative project on Cities of Power, focusing on capital cities.

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