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Refractions of the National, the Popular, and the Global in African cities

STIAS Workshop

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The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) will jointly host a conference on Refractions of the National, the Popular, and the Global in African cities at the Wallenberg Research Centre in Stellenbosch (South Africa) on Monday 31 July & Tuesday 1 August 2017.

There has been a significant expansion of academic research on the specificities of African urbanisms, diverse urban imaginaries and politics over the last decade. In the wake of recent formal policy shifts in acknowledging the importance of urbanisation and pro-active policy making on the one hand, and a rise in urban-based social mobilization on the other, it is opportune to create an academic space for cross-pollination and reflection.

The theme of the conference is captured in its title: Refractions of the National, the Popular, and the Global in African cities. Each of the three issues may be interrogated as follows:

  • How is the nationality and the nation-state manifested in the city, if at all? To what extent is the political and the social character of the state regime expressed in the city and its governance?
  • To what extent, in what form, and with what effect have popular forces been able to make themselves heard and influential in the city, in recent years? Why or why not? We are here thinking of protest movements, of civic associations and of reform coalitions of progressive city government.
  • To what extent and how has the recent and current commodity boom meant a globalization of the city? Influx of foreign capital, heating up of the real estate market, emergence or growth of financial and business services sectors, new business districts, luxury shopping, hotels, and leisure supply, immigration, skyscrapers, gated neighbourhoods, etc? How are proclaimed “world city” ambitions developing on the ground?

The conference programme is designed both to focus discussion on each of the three issues outlined above as well as to allow enough time for discussion from the participants.

The conference steering committee comprises Simon Bekker (Stellenbosch University), Edgar Pieterse (ACC, University of Cape Town), Göran Therborn (University of Cambridge), Sylvia Croese (ACC) and Christoff Pauw (STIAS). Committee members plan an academic publication based upon conference proceedings.

The draft programme with confirmed speakers is available here: [download id=”5418″]

The organisers offer space for up to thirty additional delegates to register and attend the conference. The conference fee is R800 per person. A cocktail reception and book launch of Göran Therborn’s book Cities of Power: The Urban, The National, The Popular, The Global is planned for the evening of 31 July and is included in the registration fee. To register, please complete and submit the form below by Monday 24 July 2017. Please add any dietary preferences in the comment box.

Photograph of Luanda by Ngoi Salucombo


Bookings are closed for this event.

Date and time

Monday, 31 July 2017 —
Tuesday, 1 August 2017

All Day​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


No location.

Related to this event


United Kingdom
South Africa
South Africa

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