Moral Communities in transforming African cities location:Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden date:14 May 2014
Filip de Boeck’s lecture on Kinshasa provides insight in local social and cultural imaginaries,
and thus in the imaginative ways in which local urban subjects continue to make
sense of their worlds and invent cultural strategies to cope with the breakdown of urban
Nordic Africa Institute Theme for spring 2014: Moral communities in transforming African cities
In the spring of 2014, the Nordic Africa Institute places particular emphasis on ongoing political, social and moral upheavals in African cities. The theme Moral communities in transforming African cities is about how people build their future together in rapidly changing urban environments. It is also about those who tear down old walls, and those who create new ones.
When hundreds of thousands of demonstrators forced Egyptian President Mubarak to step down in early 2011, people were united by feelings of hope. The usual fear of government seemed to have vanished. After Mubarak’s fall, however, optimism soon gave way to frustration, confusion and anger.
South Africa and Nigeria are striking examples of increasing economic strength and confidence in Africa. Yet on other levels, they have not lived up to the expectations of their people. Today’s South Africa is shaped by a deep economic divide, unemployment and fear of crime. The equality people were hoping for when the apartheid system was dismantled 20 years ago is still a distant prospect.
For its part, the Nigerian city of Jos has for over a decade been plagued by ethnic and religious tension. Fear and suspicion have come between its citizens, and former neighbours are now separated.
Yet for all these divisions and frustrations, there are those who still have hope and seek to build community. All of these strands are examined in the spring of 2014.