Although there are some exceptions, most African urban historical studies have paid fairly limited attention to environmental dynamics. Most of the recent spate of environmental science research in the continent’s urban areas has lacked sufficient historical analysis. This chapter argues that in order to develop a full and critical reading of today’s urban environments in Africa, it is essential to re-read their pasts through an interactionist urban political ecology. There is a broad overview of the pre-colonial and colonial urban environmental history of cities across the continent, showcasing specific examples in different regions. Lusaka is the case study focus here, given its significance as a created environment meant to manifest the British colonial planning order. The case study analyzes the contemporary legacy of the planned Garden City, with its orderly and politicized urban biogeography. The overall argument is that the urban environments of 21st century Africa have been shaped by forces that often reach far back in time. When approaching tangible environmental issues of today, one cannot do so as if these issues or problems have no politicized past. They are what they are as a result of historical forces.
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