Luanda is not Paris: a situated epistemology of Southern Urbanism Theory

This project for a book titled In the skin of the city: Luanda, or the dialectics of spatial transformation examines the process of historic formation and transformation of Luanda, the capital city of Angola. Luanda is one of the oldest urban conglomerations founded by European empires in the Southern hemisphere, in 1575. I explore the nature of these transformations by developing a theoretical framework through the writing of an ethno-biography of the city. Putting it differently, this book is an ethnographic description of how Luanda has come about, and how its inhabitants have transformed it from a colonial into a postcolonial city, and how they have reflected upon this transformation. This project stems from my understanding that the best way to expand our knowledge of the dynamic of postcolonial cities is not by debunking the pretenses of Western urban theories (aiming at the universalizing the urban experience), but by simply provincializing them. I do this by using the city of Luanda as raw material for ethnographic theorizations, through the description of the myriad ways people’s action reconfigure the city. Exploring the city as an archive may provide adequate tools to understand them in their own terms.

Project leader(s):
  • António Tomás (African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town)

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