Online training


Online training
BYO computer, your house, your address


07 Dec 2023


3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Politics and the Urban Frontier: Transformation and Divergence in Late Urbanizing East Africa

This workshop has been organised by the Space, Place, Environment and Liveability (SPEL) Pathway and is open to all ESRC and non-ESRC funded PhD and MA Social Research students within the WRDTP’s seven partner universities.

Professor Tom Goodfellow, from the Department of Urban Studies & Planning, University of Sheffield, will give an overview of his book, ‘Politics and the Urban Frontier: Transformation and Divergence in Late Urbanizing East Africa’ (Oxford University Press, 2022).  In addition, Tom will talk about the comparative design and methodology behind the book, and consider broader questions about undertaking comparative urban research.

Despite the rise of global technocratic ideals of city-making, cities around the world are not merging into indistinguishable duplicates of one another. In fact, as the world urbanizes, urban formations remain diverse in their socioeconomic and spatial characteristics, with varying potential to foster economic development and social justice. Tom argues that these differences are primarily rooted in politics, and if we continue to view cities as economic and technological projects to be managed rather than terrains of political bargaining and contestation, the quest for better urban futures is doomed to fail. Dominant critical approaches to urban development tend to explain difference with reference to the variegated impacts of neoliberal regulatory institutions. This, however, neglects the multiple ways in which the wider politics of capital accumulation and distribution drive divergent forms of transformation in different urban places.

In order to unpack the politics that shapes differential urban development, Tom focuses on East Africa as the global urban frontier: the least urbanized but fastest urbanizing region in the world. Drawing on a decade of research spanning three case study countries (Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda), Tom provides a detailed comparative analysis of urban development trajectories in Eastern Africa and the political dynamics that underpin them. Through a focus on infrastructure investment, urban propertyscapes, street-level trading economies, and urban political protest, he presents a multi-scalar, historically-grounded, and interdisciplinary analysis of the urban transformations unfolding in the world’s most dynamic crucible of urban change.

This is an online training event. This event will not be recorded.