Living the urban periphery

Infrastructure, everyday life and economic change in African city-regions

By Paula Meth, Sarah Charlton, Tom Goodfellow and Alison Todes

Living the urban periphery
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  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526171214
  • Publish Date: Jul 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    The edges of cities are increasingly understood as places of dynamism and change, but there is little research on African urban peripheries, the nature of building, growth, investment and decline that is shaping them and how these are lived. This co-authored monograph draws on findings from an extensive comparative study on Ethiopia and South Africa, in conversation with a related study on Ghana. It examines African urban peripheries through a dual focus on the experiences of living in these changing contexts, alongside the logics driving their transformation. Through its conceptualisation and application of five 'logics of periphery', it offers unique, contextually-informed insights into the generic processes shaping urban peripheries, and the variable ways in which these are playing out in contemporary Africa for those living the peripheries.


    This book greatly contributes to the reconceptualization of the urban peripheries discourse . bringing to the fore the lived experience of people. Studying cities such as Addis Ababa, where its periphery is under dynamic transformation, beyond lending a "fresh analytical perspective", generates learning on new frontiers hitherto undetailed.
    Dr. Elias Yitbarek Alemayehu, Addis Ababa University

    Africa is poised to take the top spot in terms of the scale and pace of urbanisation globally. It must therefore be central to the urban conversation. In an engaging comparative study this book links the realities and experiences of three urban peripheries on the continent to a dynamic field of international debate. It is empirically rich and conceptually innovative.
    Professor Phil Harrison, Wits University

    Taking forward their innovative conceptualisation of the varied logics of peripheral urbanisation, this collaboratively written and collectively researched comparative analysis builds on a rich, personal engagement with the lived experiences of residents in peripheral areas of rapidly expanding urban regions in South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana. The authors draw inspiration directly from personal diaries and the daily lives of people they worked closely with in each of the case study areas, eThekwini (Durban), the Gauteng City-Region (Johannesburg), Addis Ababa and Accra. The book works carefully through different aspects of peripheral areas, from governance to investment, housing and land markets, jobs, transport and economy. In doing so, it showcases the potential to build new insights and conceptualisations starting from these contexts, too often neglected in urban studies theorisations. In this reflective comparative analysis, South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana are the starting points for theoretical insights which will inform and encourage researchers and practitioners in many different contexts who are grappling with the implications of newly emerging, highly contested urbanising territories, which can be very difficult to inhabit. Residents identify peripheries as often 'boring' places, emerging far from work, government and retail, with often unpredictable power relations, but also sometimes scope for co-operation. This poses significant challenges for residents and government. But these kinds of peripheral urban places will likely constitute a core element of global urbanism in an era increasingly characterised by dispersed, fragmented and often far-flung urbanising territories. This book therefore establishes what will surely be one of the pillars of an urban studies agenda, urgently needed for the twenty-first century, to understand the great diversity of rapidly urbanising areas across peripheries, whether relatively close to or remote from existing urban centralities.
    Professor Jennifer Robinson, University College London


    Introduction - Paula Meth, Sarah Charlton, Tom Goodfellow and Alison Todes

    1: Visions of the Urban Periphery: Ethiopia and South Africa - Alison Todes and Tom Goodfellow
    2. Investment and Economic Change on the Urban Periphery - Alison Todes, Sarah Charlton and Tom Goodfellow
    3: Jobs and livelihoods: accessing work within and beyond the periphery - Alison Todes, Tom Goodfellow and Jen Houghton
    4: Governing the urban peripheries - Tom Goodfellow, Yohana Eyob, Paula Meth, Tatenda Mukwedeya and Alison Todes.
    5: Housing in Addis Ababa: policy, programmes and lived experience - Zhengli Huang, Tom Goodfellow and Meseret Kassahun Desta
    6: Housing, history and hope in South Africa's urban peripheries - Sarah Charlton, Alison Todes and Paula Meth
    7: Peri-urban transformations: Changing land market and the issue of (in)security in peri-urban Accra, Ghana - Divine M. Asafo
    8: Transport and mobility (in South Africa and Addis Ababa) - Tom Goodfellow, Paula Meth and Sarah Charlton
    9: Producing Places: services, infrastructure and the public realm in South Africa and Addis Ababa - Paula Meth, Sarah Charlton and Alison Todes
    10: Social differentiation, boredom and crime within the peripheries - Paula Meth, Metadel Sileshi Belihu and Sibongile Buthelezi
    11: Supermarkets, retail and consumption in peripheral areas - Sarah Charlton and Meseret Kassahun Desta

    Conclusions - Paula Meth, Sarah Charlton, Tom Goodfellow and Alison Todes


    Paula Meth is Reader in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, and Visiting Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand.
    Sarah Charlton is Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Witwatersrand.
    Tom Goodfellow is Professor of Urban Studies & International Development at the University of Sheffield.
    Alison Todes is Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Witwatersrand.

    Living the urban periphery

    By Paula Meth, Sarah Charlton, Tom Goodfellow, Alison Todes

    Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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