Hospitality without hosts: Mobility and communities of convenience in Africa's Urban estuaries

Presented by Loren Landau

Monday, 19 March, 2012 - 15:00

New  immigrants  and  the  recently  urbanised  increasingly  co-occupy  estuarial  zones
loosely  structured  by  state  social  policy  and  hegemonic  cultural  norms.  In  these
zones,  hyperdiversity,  transience  and  transgressions  are  becoming  the  norm.  Amid
the fluidity and fragmentation, novel modes of accommodation are emerging, double
helix like, with ever evolving forms of exclusion. Using examples drawn from rapidly
expanding African cities, this paper reveals cracks in the conceptual foundations on
which  integration  debates  are  normally  premised.  The  first  is  a  clear  distinction
between  hosts  and  guests.  The  second  is  migrants’  goal  of  joining  a  place  bound
community. The article concludes by outlining a  range  of emerging communities of
convenience—  tactical  cosmopolitanism,  a  form  of  ethnic  consociationalism  and
market-based multi-culturalism—shaped more by pragmatic responses to quotidian
challenges in particular sites than political imagination or policy.

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