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Urban Environments in AfricaA Critical Analysis of Environmental Politics$
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Garth Myers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447322917

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447322917.001.0001

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The cityscape

The cityscape

Chapter:
(p.83) Three The cityscape
Source:
Urban Environments in Africa
Author(s):

Garth Myers

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447322917.003.0004

This chapter centers on the actual physical-natural substances of African urban environments, but also on the imaginary – the symbolic and spiritual conceptualizations of those landscapes, as seen for instance in place-names - with Zanzibar as the featured city. Conceptually, the chapter builds from both African studies scholarship and from what was once called the ‘new’ cultural geography. It examines the cityscape physically, politically and metaphysically, arguing for the significance of spiritual cityscapes to everyday cultural understandings of urban environments as well as the generally common pattern of risk in terms of physical settings (emphasizing vulnerabilities to climate change). Emphasis on the importance of religion and spirituality in African cityscapes is not about further exoticising urbanism on the continent but instead a crucial space for using insights from African urban political ecology to speak back to UPE in other parts of the world. The Zanzibar case builds an understanding of the structures of feeling in the cityscape as manifestations of the Swahili term, fitina, meaning discord. The chapter shows that the development of a critical analysis of environmental politics requires recognition of the depths of complexity in socio-environmental conflicts such as those in Zanzibar.

Keywords:   zanzibar, new cultural geography, structures of feeling, spiritual cityscapes, place names, climate change

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