Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Governing Urban Process in Africa

17-19 September 2008, Brazzaville, Congo

Number of visits: 2008

Since 1992, CODESRIA has organised annual thematic institutes
targeted at younger researchers and mid-career scholars
mainly located in universities and research centres in Africa.
Over the period since then, the number of thematic institutes organised
by the Council has grown, as has the number of scholars
invited on an open competitive basis to participate in them. Beginning
with the Governance Institute, the institutes hosted by the
Council have grown over the years to include the Gender Institute,
the Humanities Institute Programme, the Child and Youth
Studies Institute, and the Institute on Health, Politics and Society.
Plans are afoot, within the framework of the CODESRIA Strategic
Plan for the period 2007 to 2011, to introduce two additional
institutes, one on Development Economics and the other on
The Social Sciences and ICTs.

With an average of 15 laureates participating every year in
each of the existing institutes hosted by the Council, the programme
has produced hundreds of alumni from the different
sessions held. A majority of the alumni have remained within the
African higher education system where many have also grown in
seniority and matured in their scholarship. The Programme for
the Alumni of CODESRIA Institutes is designed primarily to serve
as a forum for continued interaction among all those who have
participated in any of the institutes hosted by the Council. In so
doing, it will enable the laureates to re-visit some of the old intellectual
concerns that attracted them in the first place to the
Institute in which they participated, pose new questions that
arise as a result of the passage of time and the generation of
new insights, and develop a new, collective intellectual agenda
that might be pursued further through other CODESRIA research
vehicles. In order to realise the objectives of the programme,
CODESRIA will offer a page on its website for interaction
among the former laureates; the page will also carry news
about laureates and post publications which they may want to
share with one another. Furthermore, the Council will convene an
annual conference of the alumni of CODESRIA Institutes around
a defined theme to which former laureates will be invited to respond
through abstracts and papers. The revised versions of the
papers presented at the conference will be published by the
Council in its Book Series.

During 2008, CODESRIA will also carry forward, the tracer
study it began to conduct on the former laureates of its institutes
with a view to building a database on their intellectual trajectory
over the period since their participation in the session for
which they attended. As was done in 2007 too, the Council will
be hosting a conference in 2008 for the alumni of its institutes.
For the purpose of the tracer study, a short questionnaire is being
circulated (by e-mail and on the CODESRIA website) which
all alumni who have not already done so are invited to complete.
With regard to the conference, it will be held from 17 to
19 September, 2008 in Brazzaville, Congo, on the umbrella
theme of: Governing the Urban Process in Africa. The conference
languages will be English, French and Portuguese.

The theme of urbanisation is one which has gained a new currency
in global social research, including in the countries of Africa
which have witnessed a rapid expansion in the urban contexts
over the last two and half decades. By all accounts, Africa
is not only one of the fastest urbanising regions of the world in
spatial and demographic terms, but also home to several
emerging mega-cities, some of which, over the long-run, are
projected to straddle existing national boundaries. The proximate
factors responsible for the acceleration of processes of
urbanisation across Africa are numerous and are welldocumented
in the growing literature on the subject. These processes
have yielded both formal and informal dimensions of urbanisation
that pose a variety of governance challenges which
merit a closer examination by the African social research community.
Central to these challenges is the question of social relations
of power as embodied in the contemporary Urban Question.
At one level, the spatial composition, decomposition and recomposition
of the urban spaces speaks to broader relations of
power that need to be examined in all their dimensions. At another
level, the various modes of administration of the urban milieu
have posed questions of representation and participation
that would benefit from a close scholarly scrutiny of the city both
as socio-political space and community where identity concerns
are woven into the bigger fabric of state-society relations. Furthermore,
the fact that the accelerated urban process is intertwined
with intensified intra- and inter-state migrations raises a
variety of challenges centring on citizenship, social policies, entitlements,
civic and property rights, and responsibilities that
states and peoples across Africa – as, indeed, elsewhere in the
world – are having to grapple with. Also, the interconnections
between the formal and informal elements in the urban process
suggest a complex admixture of relations of dependence, interdependence,
domination and resistance that could be probed
for their governance implications. The specific gender and generational
dimensions of these governance implications will be
explored. Formal and informal urban processes raise questions
about environmental impact and sustainability which are increasingly
becoming issues of policy and political concern. Additionally,
the variety of cultures associated with the structuring of
opportunity, access and inclusion in different urban contexts
need to be explored in their different ramifications. Of particular
interest would be the consequences of the demographics of
the contemporary urban milieu and the phenomenon of widespread
youth unemployment on aspects of urban culture. The
ultimate question that is posed for Africa by the contemporary
Urban Question is one of how to master the urban process in a
manner which is at once democratic and developmental.
Former laureates wishing to participate in the conference are
invited to send in paper abstracts anchored on the variety of
governance challenges arising from or associated with the urban
process in Africa, doing so from the multiple perspectives arising
from the diversity of institutes hosted by the Council, and the diverse
perspectives that underpinned them. Abstracts should be
concise with a clear problematic linked to the conference theme.

December 30 2009