Presencing and publishing Urban Studies from Africa

On Friday 16 July, 2pm to 3.3pm CET,  everyone is welcome to join an open online panel discussion on "Presencing and publishing Urban Studies from Africa". 

While in "international" northern-based journals publishing the work of African based scholars seems to remain a challenge for editors, African scholars have organised many dynamic venues for publishing urban and African studies research. We have invited African-based scholars who have been involved in leading these initiatives to share their experiences; and editors working on key urban studies journals to respond. We will hear from 4 African urban scholars, and then 3 editors of urban studies journals will respond. French Language translation will be available. Further details are below, and on the eventbrite site.

Attendees of the conference have automatic access to this session. If you do not participate at the conference, please register on the eventbrite site

Presencing and publishing Urban Studies from Africa

Many urban studies journals publish few articles from African-based scholars: how can this be changed?


Edgar Pieterse (founding director of the African Centre for Cities (ACC); Professor of Urban Policy, University of Cape Town)

Saheed Aderinto (founder, Lagos Studies Association; Professor of African History at Western Carolina University)

Nadine Machikou (editor, Politique Africaine; Professor of political science at the University of Yaoundé)

Kingsley Madueke (Centre for Conflict Management & Peace Studies, University of Jos, Nigeria; PhD University of Amsterdam)


Vanessa Watson (Global South editor of Urban Studies; Emerita Professor of City Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics and a founder member of the African Centre for Cities)

Liza Weinstein (Editor, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (ijurr); Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Northeastern University)

Nik Theodore (Interventions editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and past editor of Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography;  Professor and Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, as well as the Director of the Center for Urban Economic Development, at the University of Illinois Chicago)

The RC21 annual conference is the main international urban sociology conference. It brings together scholars in urban sociology and neighbouring fields to discuss developments in urban social theory, methods and empirical research and stimulate discussion and cooperation by offering a variety of formats (plenary lectures, paper sessions, author meets critics sessions, roundtables and panels, walkshops, etc.).

Infrastructural Explorations: Embodied encounters with urban infrastructure

As part of this year's conference, we would like to invite you to join us on an online and interactive walkshop during which we will critically reflect on the impacts of infrastructure on the urban landscape. 

The session will take place on Friday 16th July at 14.00 (CET) via Zoom. 

The places for this session are limited and we kindly ask that you register for the walkshop in advance via this Eventbrite (the Zoom link will be circulated to those registered on the morning of Friday 16th):



Session abstract  

This interactive and participatory session builds on a series of Infrastructural Explorations which we have been co-curating since June 2018.  During these walkshops, we invite participants to consider their embodied and sensorial contact with the infrastructure we encounter in order to cultivate an ‘infrastructural literacy’ (Mattern 2013).  In this, we want to problematise the notion that infrastructure in the global north is hidden until it fails (Graham 2010, Star 1999).  We also want to ask how (and, indeed, if) embodied encounters with infrastructure can engage with questions of power and distributional (in)justice, with the politics of the siting of infrastructure, with its unequal socio-spatial impacts, and with forms of structural violence (Amin 2014, Graham and McFarlane 2015, Latour and Hermant 1998, Star 1999, Tonkiss 2015). 

During the Explorations, as we open our sociological imaginations to the city, an emphasis is placed on collective experiences, on unexpected encounters, and on happenstance conversations.  We consider the methodological potential offered by an open-ended, corporeal, multisensory, and collective attention to infrastructure and its impacts on the urban landscape. We also critically interrogate the ethics of the detached ‘explorer’ asking, alongside Mattern (2013), ‘but then what?’.  Having attuned to the visual, aural, olfactory, and haptic effects on the landscape and the human and more-than-human lives lived there, we further reflect on what these bodily engagements may enable. 

As we are unable to meet in person, we have devised a participatory and playful online-offline session inviting delegates to join us in exploring the infrastructure on our doorstep. With the bodily, sensory, and socio-spatial impacts of urban infrastructure in mind, we will send you on a multi-sited scavenger hunt.  Working in teams and within your national guidelines, you can explore your neighbourhood, the street outside your window, or your home to find infrastructure; exchanging reflections on its impacts on urban landscapes as well as on the methodological possibilities and limitations offered by such encounters. Finally in your teams, you will curate an online exhibition to share with the rest of the session. 

Session practicalities 

In this walkshop, we will playfully go on a scavenger hunt.

Following our opening talk and provocations, you will be put into breakout rooms for an exploration and curation of a shared response using Padlet (an easy-to-use online tool, no experience required).  During this time, you may decide to individually go outside. To make preparations smooth during the workshop, we recommend that you download the Zoom app onto your phone and keep your device charged. During this 50 minutes, you may want to stay on your Zoom call and you may want to upload images, sound files or videos to your group’s Padlet so you will consume mobile data. 

Session organisers 

Laura Henneke (PhD candidate in Visual Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London) 

Louise Rondel (PhD candidate in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London)