Ideological resonances in architecture Genealogies and futures of middle class gated communities on the fringes of Maputo, Mozambique

Chairs

Alicia Hayashi Lazzarini

Abstract

In Urban Studies literature on sub-Saharan Africa, gated communities have become a signature typology of privatized urban planning showcasing the impact of neoliberal development on municipal planning. Often built on the fringes of existing cities, urban housing enclaves thus constitute a critical driver for the synchronization of urban spaces with the aspirations and lifestyles of local urban middle classes. Not only do the specific material designs of such sequestered spaces reflect the aesthetic and social preferences of the privileged few of the ‘Global South’, the emphasis on privacy, security and stylistic bravado also align in often disturbing ways with broader municipal and national governance priorities.

A perfect showcase for this fusion between urban governmentality and sequestered forms of middle-classness is Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, where the number of gated communities has been drastically increasing over the last 20 years. Even during the early 1990s when urban private sector interventions were affecting the pace of city-life, middle class housing projects were still intimately connected with socialist visions of urban modernity. Considered as a symbol of the political intersection of state socialism with the societal moralization of the Structural Adjustment Programs, these housing developments epitomized a new form of urban living which carried the traces of both ideological systems. Since 2017, the ‘Middle-Class Urbanism’ Project (https://natmus.dk/historisk-viden/forskning/forskningsprojekter/middle-class-urbanism/) has studied how such ideological resonances impinge on the ordering of Maputo’s social and physical architecture. The panel will present the main results of this study; proposing an alternative vision of middle class urbanism based on four tightly connected subprojects exploring the historical, social, and architectural repercussions of one form of middle class architecture, which has fundamentally transformed the dynamics of a major city of the Global South.

Short bio

Alicia Hayashi Lazzarini

Human and economic geographer whose research explores contemporary and colonial investment in Africa. Her interdisciplinary research works between the humanities and social sciences to engage geographical and feminist political economy, postcolonial African studies, and critical development, race, and labor studies. She is particularly interested in capitalist dynamics in Portuguese-speaking and Southern Africa.

Alicia’s doctoral research investigated current and historical agroindustrial investment and its uneven productions of space, through multi-sited ethnographic and archival research in Southern Africa, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. She is currently extending this work in her book, provisionally titled “Luso-Capitalist Mozambique: (Re)Investments and the Production of Postcolonial Place”. The project examines how past layers of capitalist activity, racialized, migrant, and gendered land-labor regimes, and rural-urban transformations actively produce place in contemporary Mozambique. Her newest research examines contemporary urban development and these projects’ linkages to rural space. She is especially interested in how East Asian capital flows produce novel – and newly unequal – spatial practices and forms in African context. Before joining the Department of Geography and Environment, Alicia was a Postdoctoral Fellow of Geography at Bucknell University. She holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota and is a former Fulbright Fellow to Mozambique.

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suburbia II

Middle-class large housing complexes

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Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union

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suburbia II