Other Desires: The African City examines the ways in which rapid urbanization on the African continent in the twenty-first century has given rise to increasing speculation about African cities as sites of innovation and creativity amongst spatial practitioners, artists, and musicians, as well as cultural, economic and academic institutions globally. The one-day conference considers emerging spatial practices, urban narratives and identities within African cities, but also the ways in which African cities provide a conceptual framework through which to interrogate notions of desire, liberation, beauty, memory, the reinvention of traditions, and belonging that the modern city embodies.
Deep Histories of Modernity: The Archive Revisited Mamadou Diouf, Leitner Professor of African Studies, MESAAS, Columbia University- Moderator Manuel Herz, Professor for Urban and Territorial Studies, University of Basel Ikem Stanley Okoye, Associate Professor, African Art and Architecture, University of Delaware Kiluanji Kia Henda, visual artist Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP - Respondant
Imagining African Cities (New Directions) Mario Gooden, Associate Professor, Columbia GSAPP- Moderator Issa Diabaté, Managing Director of Koffi & Diabaté Architectes Olalekan Jeyifous, Visual Artist Nnedi Okorafor, Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature, University of Buffalo Mark Wigley, Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP - Respondant
Mobility Rosalind Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University - Moderator Mokena Makeka, Founder and Principal of Makeka Design Lab Mikhael Subotzky, Filmmaker Jean-Charles Tall, Co-Founder of Collège universitaire d’architecture de Dakar Clara Irazabal, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Columbia GSAPP - Respondant
(Social) Infrastructures : Resources, Climate And Technology Brian Larkin, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Barnard College Patti Anahory, Architect, co-founder XU:collective and [un]Grounding Narratives Sean Jacobs, Assistant Professor of International Affairs, The New School Akin Adesokan, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Indiana University, Bloomington Justin Moore, Senior Urban Designer, NYC Dept of City Planning - Respondant
Closing Discussion: Mamadou Diouf, Leitner Professor of African Studies, MESAAS, Columbia University Mabel Wilson, Associate Professor and Co-Director, Global Africa Lab, Columbia GSAPP Edgar Pieterse, South African Research Chair in Urban Policy & Director of African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town
Moderated by Mpho Matsipa, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP and Curator of Studio-X Johannesburg
“The insistent paradox of all Modernities is namely that they are simultaneously inward-looking and totally open to all influence and receptive to rich dialogues.”
-Okuwi Enwezor (2001:14)
Rapid urbanization on the African continent in the twenty-first century has given rise to increasing speculation about African cities as sites of innovation and creativity amongst spatial practitioners, artists, and musicians as well as cultural, economic, and academic institutions globally. This cataclysmic transformation of African societies and cities also harbors a number of spatial, political, and epistemological challenges to entrenched histories and theories of urbanism, spatial practices, and modes of representation that are deeply rooted in the logics of panoptic time, crisis, and exploitation. However, it also presents creative opportunities and productive activities, through which African cities increasingly become sites for a diverse range of economic, political, cultural, collective, and individual desires.
This 1-day conference proposes a return to spatial considerations of cities that are attentive to not only emerging spatial practices, urban narratives, and identities within African cities, but also to the ways in which African cities provide a conceptual framework through which to interrogate notions of desire, liberation, beauty, memory, the reinvention of traditions, and belonging—characteristics that the modern city putatively embodies. Thus infrastructural development, environmental change and adaptation, cultural production, archival practices, and new modes of representation will be considered in relation to how they might give rise to new spatial, technological, and intellectual trajectories within a matrix of complex power relations.
Ultimately, this conference seeks to trouble the centrality of the industrial western city as the only paradigm of modernity across a range of disciplines (including but not limited to architectural history and urban studies) and also to expand the vocabularies and imaginaries that we bring to bear in our discussions on globalization and desires for various modernities.