BottleneckMoving, Building, and Belonging in an African City

BottleneckMoving, Building, and Belonging in an African City

Caroline Melly

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226488875

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Drawing on long-term ethnographic research, this book examines the emergence of mobility as an enduring and elusive collective value in contemporary Dakar, Senegal. It takes the concept of embouteillage (bottleneck)—a term used primarily to describe the city’s proliferating traffic jams, but also frustrated migration itineraries, tedious bureaucratic lags, overcrowded residential neighborhoods, overburdened infrastructures, the trickle of investment funds, and the scarcity of foreign visas—as both a concrete point of departure and as a theoretical lens for making sense of everyday life and policy in urban Africa and beyond. This book argues that it was in navigating through and engaging with bottlenecks of all sorts that residents grappled most urgently and intimately with the changing nature of citizenship and governance in the capital city. Moreover, the book asserts that the bottleneck, broadly construed, is not peculiar to Dakar but is instead the defining feature of citizen-state relations throughout the Global South. In this way, the book contributes to scholarly literatures on economic policy and practice after structural adjustment; citizenship and governance in a transnational era; urban space and infrastructure in the Global South; and migration and mobility.