Research on Global Suburbanisms—with extensive work in Africa

The AAG 2013 conference in Los Angeles was a great meeting and I met lots and lots of good researchers and had great engagements. From Sara Macdonald, Coordinator at The City Institute at York University (CITY), Canada, I just got sent a weblink on their big research project on Suburbanization. In that they have African research cluster. Please read more on their website:

On the page they write:

The African context is one of an urban population now as large as that of north America or Europe, and this regional cluster will bring the study of African suburbanisation into the same intellectual arena as that of other continents.  Following Ekers, Hamel and Keil (2010), suburbanisation is here understood as ‘the combination of non-central population and economic growth with urban spatial expansion’.  In the immense variety of African urbanisms, the cluster is exploring what forms ‘suburbs’ and peripheries in general, take in various African contexts, including spaces which concentrate new economic activities, zones of middle and upper income residence, the meaning of informality of building, land markets and social activity, and the various elements of what is often termed ‘urban sprawl’. The key theme is rapid growth of cities into new spaces and forms, with interest in the main trends with regard to this growth, what the drivers of growth are, and how it is shaped (or not) by policy and institutional mechanisms that try to direct urban growth (and the reality of what happens in practice).  The case studies will focus on key actors involved in African suburban growth and the creation of African suburbanisms, and the ways they influence it (property developers, landowners, traditional authorities, administrators; households of different types; politicians). Life in the suburbs and visions of the future will receive attention.

In Year 1, a literature review on African suburbanisms (Butcher, Mabin and Bloch) was presented inter alia at RC21 in Amsterdam. The intersection of the Africa Cluster with the Govermance cluster also produced a review and discussion paper on Africa’s new suburbs (Bloch).  In addition, in September 2011, a workshop to plan the ‘case study’ and ‘vantage point’ research on suburbs and suburbanization in several African cities was held in Cape Town.

Mabin, Alan, Robin Bloch & Sian Butcher. (7-9 July, 2011). Scope and Dimensions of Suburbanization in African Cities. Paper presented at the International RC21 Conference 2011, Session 16.1 The Challenge of Global Suburbanism. Amsterdam.

Mabin, Alan. (8 April, 2011). Scope and Dimensions of African Suburbanism. SUBURBS Talk hosted by the CITY Institute at York. York University, Toronto.