STIAS Lecture Series 2019: Claudia Gastrow – The Discomforts of Home: Class, Infrastructure and Aesthesis in Luanda, Angola

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Date/Time
16/04/2019
13:00 - 14:00
Location
Adam Small Theatre Seminar Room
Category(ies)

Claudia Gastrow, Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Johannesburg and STIAS Iso Lomso fellow will present a talk with the title:

 The Discomforts of Home: Class, Infrastructure and Aesthesis in Luanda, Angola

Gastrow Photo 2018

Abstract

This talk investigates how infrastructures – both official and unofficial – are the objects through which residents of Luanda experience exclusion and status. In the first decade and half of the 2000s, Luanda, Angola’s capital city, was the showcase of the country’s post-conflict reconstruction project. Despite the state attempting to portray reconstruction as an act of provision and care, it reproduced existing material and aesthetic conditions of differentiation and exclusion, thereby reinforcing the more subtle inequities of sensory experience that structured conceptions of belonging. Focusing on urban residents’ access to infrastructure and how that positioned them in the city, this paper argues that aesthesis – the sensory means through which the world is apprehended – was a primary means through which exclusion and inequality were experienced. This medium of inequality not only structured exploitative relationships between urban residents of different socio-economic backgrounds, but was reproduced in state housing projects, as the economic shaping of urban belonging resulted in highly discrepant state investments and imaginations of the infrastructural needs of citizens.

Claudia Gastrow is a lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Johannesburg. Her work focuses largely on the intersection of urban politics and the built environment, with particular emphasis on Angola, urban belonging, housing, and, most recently, financial investments. In 2018 she was awarded the Central African Studies Association paper prize for her work on Luanda. She serves as an editor of African Studies and on the editorial collective of the African Studies Review.  She is currently an Iso Lomso Fellow at STIAS, and has previously been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies’ African Humanities Programme.

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