Precarity, Protection, and the Politics of African Urbanization

Loren Landau
Event Date: October 06, 2015 - 5:30 p.m.
Event Type: Student Event
Location: Campus Center, 3rd Floor, Room 3540

Speaker Loren B Landau, PhD 

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Listen to audio from presentation now

Drawing on original surveys and qualitative research in four African cities—Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lubumbashi, and Maputo—this presentation considers how emergent patterns of political authority and power shape human security for migrants and long-term residents. Recognizing that domestic and international laws and formal interventions have limited impact on protection outcomes, it argues that we refocus attention on complex sets of horizontal relations forged by individual and collective ambitions, economic conditions, and institutional histories. In the politics of place making, it finds diverse modalities of authority and power emerging in ways that confound and potentially co-opt state institutions. It concludes that understanding human security in Africa’s fluid and expanding urban centers means explicitly considering forms of territorial sovereignty determined less by law and global norms than by ethnic gangsterism, Pentecostalism, and other forms of localized and translocal systems of material and social exchange.

Loren B. Landau is the South African Research Chair in Human Mobility and the Politics of Difference at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg where he was the founding director. For 2014-2015 he was the Henry J. Leir Chair in Migration Studies based at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. His work explores human mobility, citizenship, development, and political authority. He has served as the chair of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), as a member of the South African Immigration Advisory Board and is on the editorial boards of International Migration Review, Migration Studies, and the Journal of Refugee Studies. Widely published in the academic and popular press, he is author of The Humanitarian Hangover: Displacement, Aid, and Transformation in Western Tanzania (Wits Press), co-editor of Contemporary Migration to South Africa (World Bank), editor of Exorcising the Demons Within: Xenophobia, Violence and Statecraft in Contemporary South Africa (UN University Press/Wits Press) and has published in Millennium, Politics & Society, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and elsewhere. He has consulted with the South African Human Rights Commission, the UNDP, the UNHCR, the World Bank, Oxfam, and others. He holds an MSc in Development Studies (LSE) and a PhD in Political Science (Berkeley).

This event is part of the Conflict Resolution Colloquium Series and is made possible in part by the John Templeton Foundation.

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit two weeks prior to the event.