Who benefits in the diver(se)city? ‘Participatory’ urban development pratices in Accra
Philosophy and Art History Research Seminar meets weekly in term on Thursday afternoons to discuss a paper by a visiting philosopher, art historian, or a member of our academic staff.
This week's speaker is Dr Afia Afenah who is an interdisciplinary urban researcher who works at the intersection of public anthropology and critical urban studies. Thus far her work has focused on a range of urban themes including informality and everyday governance practices, theories of justice and the relationship between social diversity, poverty and inequality. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre, University of Essex, a Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (University College London) and an affiliate researcher at the Habitat Unit, Technical University Berlin.
Abstract: "Who benefits in the diver(se)city? ‘Participatory’ urban development pratices in Accra":
This chapter explores the intricacies of participatory urban development in Old Fadama, Accra’s largest informal settlement. Based on ten months of ethnographic fieldwork in the neighbourhood, it focuses on how power relations between and among residents determine who participates in decision making processes and who benefits from such development practices. The chapter traces how certain actors use grassroots participatory interventions to subvert democratic decision-making processes and create and solidify their positions as gatekeepers of financial aid and local decision-making.
These development practices are characterised both by a lack of diversity regarding who participates in decision making processes and in terms of who benefits from these interventions and financial resources. These outcomes problematize dominant narratives of coherent poor communities within urban development discourses and urges development practitioners, academics and grassroots organizations to engage more thoroughly with the power relations and resulting inequalities within urban informal settlements.
The seminar will be followed by informal drinks at Top Bar and a meal.