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BottleneckMoving, Building, and Belonging in an African City$
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Caroline Melly

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226488875

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226489063.001.0001

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Inhabiting Inside-Out Houses

Inhabiting Inside-Out Houses

(p.77) Three Inhabiting Inside-Out Houses

Caroline Melly

University of Chicago Press

This chapter employs the lens of embouteillage to consider another seemingly stalled urban project: the construction of concrete houses and villas, often funded by diasporic Senegalese. While scholarly literature would be inclined to see these often “empty” and unoccupied houses as evidence of the incapacity of the adjusted state and the failure of neoliberalism, urban residents’ narratives and engagements highlighted these houses as sites and signs of mobility’s dramatic potential to transform both the city and citizenship. Drawing on ethnographic work with returned migrants, families with loved ones abroad, state workers, and residents “stuck” in the city, this chapter explores the city landscapes, social networks, and economies that these structures both generated and sustained. Dakar’s bottlenecked houses created rare opportunities and spaces in the city for rural residents who came to work as laborers in the construction sector, tend to vacant properties, or squat in unoccupied structures while looking for work in the city. Despite their evident erosion, this chapter argues, these structures also enabled urban residents to make particular kinds of future-oriented claims on the city, thereby shaping the ways people thought about dwelling, building, citizenship, and migration.

Keywords:   housing construction, squatters, laborers, migration, citizenship, dwelling, building, urban landscape, neoliberalism

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