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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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Rough Towns: Mobilizing Uncertainty in Kinshasa

Rough Towns: Mobilizing Uncertainty in Kinshasa

(p.139) Ten Rough Towns: Mobilizing Uncertainty in Kinshasa
African Futures

Abdoumaliq Simone

University of Chicago Press

Through activities of mutual accommodation, local agglomerations of urban residents bring about new exteriors—new spaces of implication, reference, and operation that exert potentially unsettling effects. Particularly in cities without institutions of mediation, such exteriority generates uncertainty as the “spacing-out” of bodies, responsibilities and rights often does not hold. Yet, uncertainty can also be mobilized to recompose the association of things, values, and practices. Using the central city district KasaVubu in Kinshsasa as case, the presentation explores how residents circumvent notions of “eligibility” to “look upon” each other in ways that run against the grain and potentiate new configurations of action—new ways of working together that are often necessary to access important resources. Such efforts demonstrate that urban efficacy is not attained through adherence to norms, but in the specific intersections of the ways macro-structural conditions—market rationalities, production logics, infrastructure—reach for applicability in complex realities and the ways everyday collective efforts reach to maximize their capacities through articulating to specific architectures of explanation and exteriority. Across urban Africa, much discussion concerns the imposition of macro-structural devices or on some inherent resourcefulness of cities. What remains to be explored is how these trajectories meet—where, how, and for what possible outcomes.

Keywords:   Kinshasa, urbanism, uncertainty, infrastructure, improvisation

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