The Discomforts of Home: Infrastructure, Rehousing and Class in Luanda

Presented by Claudia Gastrow

Monday, 19 March, 2018 - 15:00

A growing literature on class has focused on questions of infrastructure, housing, and consumption as markers of economic and symbolic distinction. This chapter draws on this literature to explore how class and urban inclusion become marked through experience of aesthetic discomfort or comfort in their homes. Divided into three major parts, it first frames Luanda as what has been described as a "back-up city" in which unreliable infrastructures lead to life being characterised by various forms of patching and repair to realise the kinds of aesthetic comfort that people feel characterises dignified housing. It then explores the desires for specific kinds of aesthetic experiences as marks of wealth and urban inclusion. Finally, it investigates the state's rehousing programme, showing how assumptions about the socio-economic status of those being rehoused shapes the willingness of state and private institutions to designcertain kinds of infrastructural comforts into new housing. Overall then, the paper makes a case for class being an aesthetic category rooted in economic and material conditions.

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