Call for Papers: Re-making creative cities in African contexts

A special issue of the International Journal of urban and Regional Research (IJURR) Symposium edited by Jenny F. Mbaye & Andy C. Pratt.

As urbanisation has continued apace, African cities have become the crucibles of dynamics, evolving cultural as well as economic practices. In tandem the premise that despite the increasing importance of the creative economy and the rising interests in the creative city both in academia and policy circles (UNESCO 2013, UNCTAD 2010, 2008), these two phenomena still remain under-researched in an African context. Indeed, despite an emerging corpus from Southeast and Eastern Asia (Shin & Stevens, 2013; Guazon; 2013) as well as Latin America, that has started to engage in the debate, in the broad literature, the ‘creative city’ and its cultural economy has been thought of, and developed as, an alternative to the industrial city, reflecting as such the preoccupations of ‘Northern’ urban planners and policy-makers in designing a productive and attractive city in a post-industrial age (Borén & Young, 2013; Grodach, 2012; Peck, 2012). While in the Global North this growing interest in the creative economy is clearly part of an attempt to invent new strategies for urban development, little research has explored the imperatives and practices of creative economies in cities of the Global South, least those of Africa. Moreover, going beyond the normative policy script about the creative city calls for an active engagement with the ‘soft infrastructure’ of this economy (its people, their skills and networks and the social fabric they inhabit), and to build an original corpus from the diversity of African experiences, grounded in endogenous knowledge and practices of the field.

In this regards, the collection “Re-Making Creative Cities in African Contexts” will explore meaningful articulations of culture, creativity and urban development in the African continent, and for, Africans. It will address both the challenge of appropriating and engaging with, an external (Global North) understanding of the concept and practice of creative cities and economies, while grounding its discussion in African realities. As such, this Symposium intends to provide an illustrative multi-focal empirical investigation that exposes the complexities of the creative city and its economy. In fact, this collection intends to challenge the conceptualisation and formulation from a post-industrial urban perspective of the ‘creative city’, which both poorly resonate with the realities of most African cities rather defined in post-colonial and post-apartheid terms. As such, it suggests an in-depth inquiry of both the concept and practice of how creative cities unfold through distinctive processes grounded in the diversity of African societies. This Symposium thus calls for contributions that respectively address and illuminate processes of (institutional understanding and policy-making) African creative cities, with their political and operational strategies and challenges; as well as processes of experiencing these cities with the multiple articulations of living, practicing and operating the productive fields of culture and creativity in African urban contexts. Besides, this collection welcomes contributions from various academic disciplines, as ‘creative cities’ is object of research, which inherently calls for trans- disciplinary approaches, in order to grasp the complexity of both the tangible (in-built environment) and intangible (socio-cultural dimensions) living heritage, these sources of urban creativity.

Please send your 300 words (max.) abstract, with a title, your name, position, and affiliation to j.f.mbaye@gmail.com by February 15th, 2014 at the latest. A decision shall be made by February 20th. If selected, full articles will then have to be submitted by March 25th, 2014 in order to give enough time for the peer-reviewed process, and for an anticipated publication of the Symposium, early 2015.

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