Theme Panel: Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Great Transformation in the Making


Theme Panel: Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Great Transformation in the Making

Thu, September 1, 2:00 to 3:30pm

The rapid and on-going urbanization of Sub-Saharan Africa truly represents a great transformation. Not only is the rate of urbanization higher than in any other region of the world, but a majority of Africans are projected to be living in urban settings as early as 2030. How will this massive demographic shift influence politics? There are many reasons to believe that the patterns of urbanization and their political implications will not mirror the well-documented urbanization of Europe in the 19th century. This is primarily because urbanization in Europe was driven by permanent migration to industrialized urban centers, while urbanization in Africa is typically happening in the absence of industrialization, and is more often characterized by temporary or “circular” migration, the maintenance of strong ties to rural communities, and participation in the informal economy. Differences also stem from the relative weakness of many African states (forcing urbanites to invest in rural areas as a form of social insurance), the persistence of traditional land tenure regimes, and the importance of social obligations to one’s home area within many African cultures. Thus, urbanization in Africa offers the opportunity to understand the political implications of urban migration in contexts quite different from those that inform classic studies in comparative politics. In addition, a focus on urbanization is crucial to the study of African politics in particular, as most extant theories assume a predominantly rural population.

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University

Tariq Thachil, Yale University
Alisha Caroline Holland, Princeton University

City Under Siege
Jeffrey W. Paller, Columbia University
Urbanization, Ethnic Identity, and Social Networks in Lusaka
Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University; Amanda Lea Robinson, The Ohio State University
Disengaged By Choice? Why Urban Youth Don’t Participate in Formal Politics
Daniel Nicolas Jacques de Kadt;
Adam J. Berinsky
Daniel N. Posner, University of California, Los Angeles
Ethnicity versus Social Position: Political Attitudes in Urban Nigeria
Adrienne LeBas, American University
Capture and its Consequences: Local Government Elections in Urban Ghana
Noah Nathan, University of Michigan