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On the governing of 'gray' trading spaces in Accra: Multiple powers and ambiguous worlding practices
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7679-7851
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Recent studies on ‘urban informality’ emphasise the role of the state in the production and governing of ‘gray spaces’. This paper contributes to this body of research by emphasising the multiple actors involved in the governance of informal land uses and their ambiguous positions on how these spaces should best be understood and approached. Based on an in-depth case study of ‘gray’ trading spaces in central Accra, I show that individual landowners in the vicinity of trading spots play a crucial role in the governing of roadside trading, together with state actors and traders. Furthermore, traders and state actors are both engaged in ambiguous ‘worlding practices’ that, on the one hand, envision Accra as becoming a city where street trade is eradicated, while, on the other hand, street trade is considered to be an opportunity for urban (economic) development. These varied perspectives imply that neither traders nor state bodies are uniform actors and that these groups are not necessarily positioned against each other.

National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178280OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178280DiVA, id: diva2:1387817
Available from: 2020-01-22 Created: 2020-01-22 Last updated: 2020-03-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. New urban horizons in Africa: A critical analysis of changing land uses in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana
Open this publication in new window or tab >>New urban horizons in Africa: A critical analysis of changing land uses in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

African cities increasingly aspire global recognition and this has prompted a rapid transformation of the built environment in many urban locales. This thesis provides empirical and conceptual insights into this recent trend through a critical analysis of contemporary land use changes in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana. More specifically, this thesis examines the prevailing discourses on desirable urban development amongst urban planners and policy makers in this city region; how and by whom certain city visions are integrated into the built environment; how certain marginalised groups (represented by ‘informal’ street vendors and former residents of an ‘informal settlement’) respond to dominant city visions; and the socio-spatial consequences of contemporary urban interventions.

The present thesis is based upon three qualitative case studies of transforming urban areas in the Greater Accra Region. The methods used include semi-structured interviews, observations and policy analysis. Theoretically, this thesis combines critical urban theory, the governmentality perspective and post-colonial urban theory to examine different aspects of the processes behind changing land uses and their consequences. The three cases are analysed in separate papers and discussed together in a comprehensive summary.

The first paper analyses the logics behind a state-led demolition of a centrally located informal settlement. The paper shows that ‘conflicting rationalities’ exist between marginalised residents of informal settlements and state actors regarding their understanding of Accra’s built environment. While the demolished settlement constituted a place of affordable housing, place-specific livelihood strategies and sociability to the former residents, state authorities perceived the neighbourhood as problematic and made use of market-driven, ‘generative’ and ‘dispositional’ rationalities to justify the demolition and make space for new urban developments.

The second paper explores the everyday governance of informal street trade in Osu, a rapidly transforming inner suburb of Accra. The paper highlights the important role played by individual landowners in the regulation of street trade in public space and demonstrates that street vendors, state authorities and landowners express ambiguous attitudes on the contemporary and future presence of informal trading in Accra due to prevailing aspirations of making Accra a globally recognised city.

The third paper analyses the planning and materialisation of Appolonia City, a new satellite city under construction in peri-urban Accra. The paper demonstrates that far-reaching processes of privatisation in terms of land ownership, urban planning and city management are taking place through this project. Appolonia City has been enabled by state- and traditional authorities, together with the private developer, on the basis of multiple rationalities. The paper suggests that Appolonia City will become an elite development in contrast to the project’s stated goal of social sustainability.

On the basis of the aggregated findings of the three case studies, this thesis concludes that a strong ‘global city’ ideal informs contemporary urban transformation in the Greater Accra Region; that the privatisation of communal land plays a key role in enabling (new types of) urban intervention; and that the needs of the urban poor are largely disregarded in these processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, 2020. p. 120
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 157
Keywords
African cities, urban redevelopment, urban informality, urban land use, urban planning, spatial governance, new cities, evictions, socio-spatial segregation, qualitative case studies, fieldwork, critical urban theory, governmentality, post-colonial urban theory, Accra, Ghana
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178276 (URN)978-91-7797-956-2 (ISBN)978-91-7797-957-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-03-06, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

Available from: 2020-02-12 Created: 2020-01-22 Last updated: 2020-02-13Bibliographically approved

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