“Urban Infrastructures in Transition: The Case of African Cities”

Urbanisation has become a fundamental characteristic of modern societies. This is particularly the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where the speed of urbanisation is the highest in the world. One of the most powerful and dynamic keys to deciphering these urbanisation processes is the study of urban infrastructures. These socio-technical systems permeate all the societal functions, the built environment and institutional structures of a city and represent long-term accumulations of capital, technology, and organisational and geopolitical power.
The programme “Urban Infrastructures in Transition” focuses on developments in the East African cities of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya). In particular, it highlights the history of, and the current challenges posed by, urban infrastructures – the supply and use of water, energy, sewerage, transport and telecommunication services. Within this framework, researchers critically investigate the tensions between internationally circulating technological and urban ideals and models in the planning, design and construction of cities (especially those of a “networked city”) on the one hand, and local processes of creativity and adaptation on the other hand.
The interdisciplinary programme has been funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation and URBANgrad since October 2014. The research of currently two postdoctoral and 12 PhD scholars covers the following academic subjects: spatial and infrastructure planning, urban development and design, history of technology, economic geography and global studies.

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