Contested Urban Spaces

Contested Urban Spaces

This theme responds to the growing focus by a range of disciplines and fields on the challenges and opportunities provided by urbanisation, which the continent of Africa is expected to experience most intensely in the 21st Century. This theme opens up opportunity for genuine inter-disciplinary engagement, reflecting the growing body of urban-focused research in a diverse range of areas and topics, including public health, architecture, creative arts, youth marginality, political protest, migration, climate change, informal economies, electoral and criminal violence, policing, music, governance, and beyond.

As African societies grapple with the growth of cities and a shift from rural-to-urban based populations, this stream will pose questions concerning the positive and negative outcomes of urbanisation across political, economic, and societal spheres. Importantly, it will explore the latest research that gives focus to African urban contexts in their own right. In what ways do different actors, be they state or non-state, licit or illicit, formal or informal, contest and shape the ‘urban’ in Africa? How is security, health, governance, quality of life, culture, and identity affected by the growth of African cities? To what extent are urban spaces in Africa producing unprecedented challenges, or bringing about new benefits? Such questions allow for a broad range of panels and presentations, bringing together cutting-edge research from fields such as anthropology, criminology, urban geography, economics, law, political science, sociology, public health and more.

1. Youth Marginality and Street-Gangs
Convenor: Ibrahim Abdullah (Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone)

2.Urban (In)Security in Africa – open call for papers in this research field
Convenor: Kieran Mitton (King’s College London)

Organiser: Kieran Mitton (


Photo credit: Susan’s Bay, Freetown. Image credit: Kieran Mitton, June 2019