Cultural policy and just cities in Africa

ABSTRACT

In the vastly unequal contexts typical in African cities and amidst the poly crisis of rapid urban development, it is vital to understand how cultural heritage intersects with urban planning, design and development. Although integrating cultural heritage into the urban agenda is crucial to developing sustainable cities, the ways in which culture is being defined by and asserted in global policies such as the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals discourses is problematic and may land in unexpected ways in African cities. By drawing on examples from two African cities, the article starts by exploring how cultural heritage is articulated in the African and global urban agenda, paying particular attention to the skewing towards specific articulations of cultural heritage. Secondly, the article considers how policies land in African contexts, engaging with the limitations of devolved policies and normative assumptions of the built environment, tourism and creative industries. Thirdly, the article explores examples of intangible and ephemeral culture in the form of festivals that function tangentially to the current culture-urban agenda, but that are helping to counterbalance inequitable urbanisms. Finally, drawing on these examples, the article identifies policy opportunities to promote fair and sustainable cities through cultural citizenship and implementing policy for more just African cities.

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