Urban Environments in AfricaA Critical Analysis of Environmental Politics

Urban Environments in AfricaA Critical Analysis of Environmental Politics

Garth Myers

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9781447322917

Publisher: Policy Press

Abstract

This book develops an interactionist urban political ecology approach to urban environments across Africa. Individual chapters focus on: analyzing the findings of planners and scholars on Africa’s urban environmental problems; interrogating urban environmental histories; engaging with the physical-material settings and cultural beliefs surrounding them; recovering the political-environmental urban visions of African writers and artists; and building from everyday environmentalism and community activism. The book highlights alternative readings of Africa’s urban environments via case study segments on Nairobi, Lusaka, Zanzibar, Dakar and Cape Town, along with material on a variety of other cities. The primary practical, policy- and planning-oriented argument is that efforts to ‘improve’ urban environments in Africa will fail without engagement with and (re)building from the reality of diverse and complex perspectives on those environments. That leads to a more theoretical argument for radical incrementalism, following the South African urbanist Edgar Pieterse, within an interactionist urban political ecology framework. Despite the diversity of cities and environments, cities in Africa share the hot pot of environmental politics – and that demands a critical, comparative approach. The book argues for greater dialogue with ‘rural’ political ecology, a deeper historical backdrop and recognition that everyday environmentalism takes many forms in the city. In such a manner Africanized and pluralized interactionist urban political ecology could genuinely lead to broader ways for rethinking urban theory on what constitutes a city and a radical re-imagination of possibilities for producing cities around the world that are more just and genuinely socio-environmentally sustainable.